Israeli drone kills 5 suspected Islamic terrorists on Egyptian soil
EL-ARISH, Egypt — An Israeli drone strike killed five suspected Islamic terrorists and destroyed a rocket launcher in Egypt's largely lawless Sinai Peninsula on Friday, two senior Egyptian security officials said, describing a rare Israeli operation carried out in its Arab neighbor's territory.
The attack happened a day after Israel briefly closed its airport in the Red Sea resort of Eilat, close to the Sinai, in response to unspecified security warnings. Eilat was previously targeted by rocket fire from the Sinai.
Israel maintained official silence about the strike, suggesting that if the Jewish state was involved, it might be trying to avoid embarrassing the Egyptian military. An Egyptian military spokesman later denied the report but did not provide another cause for the explosion.
Egypt's official MENA news agency said an explosion destroyed a rocket launcher set up near the border to initiate attacks against Israel, and at least five Islamic militants were killed.
Bodies of the slain terrorists were charred from the blast, an Egyptian official said. He said four of the dead appeared to belong to a family called el-Menaie, whose members are wanted on several terrorism-related charges.
“Next to the bodies, there were rockets and a motorcycle that turned into pieces,” the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists.
A tribal leader in the area said an Egyptian helicopter flew over the site a few minutes after the drone strike. The Egyptian security officials said the drone had been flying near the site of the attack since early Friday on the Israeli side of the border and fired from there. Those on the Egyptian side of the border could hear the drone buzzing overhead for hours, they said.
The site of the strike is about 3 miles from the Israeli border.
An Israeli drone attack in the Sinai could signal a significant new level of security cooperation between the two former foes following a military coup that ousted Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsy, last month. The military has alleged that Morsy and his Muslim Brotherhood movement had turned a blind eye to Islamic terrorists in the Sinai.
Morsy's ouster has triggered an increase in attacks against security forces on the peninsula, raising fears that extremists could exploit Islamist anger to spread their insurgency.
The Egyptian security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Israeli attack was initiated in cooperation with Egyptian authorities despite past insistence that the government would not allow anyone to use its territories to launch attacks against jihadi groups.
The Israeli military said only that it was looking into the report after being contacted by the AP.
Egyptian military spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali initially said on his official Facebook page that security forces were investigating two explosions in el-Agra. He later issued a statement denying “in form and substance any attacks from the Israeli side inside Egyptian territories” and saying the claim of cooperation was “baseless.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Guatemalan village expels Jewish group
- 20 rescued from gold mine shaft
- Polish leader, Italian diplomat to fill key EU posts
- Terror threat not foreign, Cameron tells Brits
- Libyan militia accuses Egypt, United Arab Emirates of airstrikes
- With eyes on China, Japan seeks record defense budget
- Paris to celebrate end to Nazi rule 70 years later
- Beijing expected to restrict Hong Kong candidates
- Putin calls for exit corridor for Ukrainian troops trapped in southeast
- Israelis, Hamas ignore Egypt pleas for cease-fire
- ISIS waterboarded Foley, other hostages