Egypt’s Sinai security forces say plan crackdown


Security forces in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula say they are launching an operation to control those behind a series of attacks in the northern town of el Arish and stations that export gas to Israel.

Witnesses in el Arish said they saw armored vehicles, tanks and armed security personnel arriving in Sinai on Friday. Some said there were increased security measures on the Suez Canal. Authorities said there was no disruption to canal traffic.

“Troops have arrived to support the implementation of random raids to arrest suspects involved in the recent police station attack ... as well as the perpetrators of bombing operations and outlaws,” said a security source.

The source said the raids, named “Operation Eagle,” were imminent and would involve large formations of armed and military forces, without giving numbers.

Attacks on Egypt’s energy infrastructure have escalated since President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in February. The main target has been the North Sinai pipeline, which also supplies Jordan.

There were five recent attacks on Sinai’s gas-exporting points to Israel, the latest on July 30. Egyptian authorities have blamed unidentified “saboteurs” and “armed gangs.”

In July, security sources said about 100 armed men, who rode through el Arish in cars and motorcycles waving flags with Islamic slogans, attacked a police station and engaged in a shootout with policemen and soldiers.

Six people were killed. The official state news agency MENA cited a security official as saying Egyptians and Palestinians were among 12 suspects arrested.

The Gaza Strip, ruled by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, borders Sinai to the north.