Egyptian President Says Border Attackers 'Will Pay A High Price'
At least 15 were killed and nine others wounded when masked gunmen with semiautomatic weapons and hand grenades ambushed Egyptian soldiers who were breaking their Ramadan fast at sunset, CNN reported. The bloodshed occurred at a checkpoint near the Rafah border crossing in the Sinai region of Egypt, which has seen kidnappings and clashes in recent months.
A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the attackers seized two armored personnel vehicles in the assault and drove them to the Karem Shalom crossing with Israel. Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, said on Monday that up to eight of the assailants were killed, calling it a “wake-up call to Egypt, who has been accused by Israel of the desert peninsula area, according to Reuters.
More from Reuters:
Israel dismissed allegations it had any involvement in the deadly attack.
"Even the person who says this when he looks at himself in the mirror does not believe the nonsense he is uttering," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
In Washington, the U.S. State Department voiced scepticism that Mossad might have been behind the attack and urged Egypt to improve security in Sinai.
Asked if it was conceivable the Israeli intelligence service launched the attack, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters that "doesn't sound right to me."
Both Egypt and Israel blamed Islamist militants for carrying out the attack. Egypt has closed its Gaza border crossing indefinitely.
The assault is considered a diplomatic test for Morsi, an Islamist who came into power in late June after U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year during the uprising.
"Our forces will impose a full control on these areas," Morsi said in an address to the nation. "Sinai is safe and fully under control — those who did this will pay a high price."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was saddened by the deaths, but added the incident proved that Israel needed to use its own forces to ensure its security, the BBC reported.
"I think it is clear that Israel and Egypt have a common interest in keeping the border between us peaceful," Netanyahu said.
Israeli officials claim the militants’ objective was to use stolen armored vehicles to target civilians.
Read more on Neon Tommy's coverage of Egypt here.