New clashes have broken out between Egyptian police and gunmen outside a police station in the Sinai town of El-Erish, state TV reports. The state-owned Nile News television reported that Egyptian police and gunmen were engaged in clashes on Thursday.
The police campaign was launched on Tuesday, two days after gunmen killed 16 Egyptian border guards at a checkpoint near Egypt’s border with Israel, the military said in a statement on Wednesday."Elements from the armed forces and interior ministry supported by the air force began a plan to restore security by pursuing and targeting armed terrorist elements in Sinai, and it has accomplished this task with complete success," it said. The state television reported on Wednesday that at least 20 gunmen were killed in air strikes, carried out by Egyptian Air Force, in Tumah village. A senior military official in Sinai said "20 terrorists were killed" in Apache helicopter raids and when soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division stormed Tumah. He said the helicopter targeted gunmen’ vehicles while they were trying to escape.
On Wednesday, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi sacked the country’s intelligence chief, the Republican Guard commander and the head of the military police over the security breach in the Sinai Peninsula.Morsi appointed General Mohamed Raafat Abdel Wahed Shehata as the new director of the General Intelligence Directorate after ordering former intelligence chief Major General Murad Muwafi to step down. Republican Guard commander Major General Samy Dyab was also replaced with Major General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki. On the same day, the Egyptian president also fired Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, the governor of North Sinai, where the deadly attack took place.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas say Israeli spy agency Mossad was behind the border attack.MSH/JR/MA