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Middle East
Egyptian Sinai security building attacked
Anti-state fighters attack security headquarters in el-Arish with rocket-propelled grenades and machineguns.
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2012 20:36

An Egyptian soldier has been confirmed dead after fighters attacked a security headquarters in Egypt's Sinai area.

Several offices were also injured as fighting broke out after armed men attacked the North Sinai security headquarters in the town of el-Arish at dawn on Sunday.

Witnesses said that machinegun battles had occurred in the streets outside the headquarters. One official said that the attackers had used rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and automatic rifles.

"They positioned themselves on the roofs of buildings opposite the security headquarters and launched the RPGs," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AFP news agency.

Al Jazeera's Steve Chao, reporting from Cairo, said that the fighting had lasted for about an hour, and began after masked gunmen gained access to buildings across the road from the security headquarters.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident in the town of Sheikh Zuwayyid, 30km east of el-Arish, at least five people, including two civilians, were injured when fighters attacked a security forces convoy and the local police station.

Eight people were arrested in the Sheikh Zuwayyid, officials said.

In total, seven security officers were injured in the two incidents on Sunday. Two were in critical condition and being flown to Cairo for treatment.

Operation Sinai

Al Jazeera's Chao said: "These sorts of attacks are frequent in the Sinai as the government has been trying to increase its control in the region."

"On Friday for example, a group of Bedouin fighters is said to have attacked a peace keeping base in that area."

Security forces launched a campaign to defeat increasingly brazen anti-state fighters in the Sinai Peninsula after an attack on army post killed 16 soldiers on August 5.

On Friday, gunmen attacked an international peacekeeping camp in the Sinai peninsula, though the motive for the assault was not clear. The Egyptian army restored control of the camp within a few hours.

Since last year's ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, fighters have launched several attacks on a Sinai pipeline that exports gas to Israel, as well as raids on police stations in the mountainous desert peninsula.

Earlier this month, the army said its forces had killed 32 "criminal elements" in the ongoing Operation Sinai which was launched days after the border post attack.

"The operation will continue until its goals have been achieved... These are not just military goals but also developmental goals for the Sinai," Ahmed Mohammed Ali, an army spokesperson, said at the time.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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