Egyptian army plans operation against Sinai ‘armed gangs and terrorists’

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The Egyptian military is planning a crackdown on Islamist militants in Sinai, according to media reports late Friday, following an attack which left one Egyptian police officer dead and another wounded.

Attacks on security checkpoints in Sinai have occurred almost daily since the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Islamist Mohammed Mursi.

The offensive against “armed gangs and terrorists” in Sinai will include artillery and air power, but the militants will have a chance to surrender, the pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper reported on Friday.

The Egyptian army will also close the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip “indefinitely,” an official source told Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm.

Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, denies Egypt’s claims that it has an armed presence in Sinai, according to The Jerusalem Post.

But the timing of Egypt’s offensive in Sinai has not yet been confirmed, as the military is currently engaged in maintaining order on the streets of Cairo, after the overthrow of Mursi on July 4.

President Mursi had also struggled to get a grip on security in Egypt because of a lack of control over the security establishment. In March, Reuters reported that thousands of riot police and conscripts went on strike across Egypt.

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