Egypt closes Rafah crossing after attacks

Egypt closes the Rafah crossing on the Gaza border after reports of attacks on the Egyptian side. (File photo: AFP)

Egyptian security forces closed the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Friday, after Islamist gunmen staged multiple attacks on security forces in Egypt's troubled Sinai Peninsula.

Security sources said a soldier was killed and two were wounded when a police station in Egypt's Rafah area, on the border with the Gaza Strip, came under rocket fire.

Earlier, attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at army checkpoints guarding El Arish airport, close to the border with the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The border closure has angered Gaza residents, as the Rafah crossing serves as the only gateway for Palestinians to travel out of the besieged Strip.

“We went to the crossing, inside, but when we reached the Egyptian gate, they made us turn back. They said the crossing was closed,” Gaza resident Ameen al-Agha said.

“It affects me because my visa will expire,” another resident, Yousef Libid said.

Egypt said the Rafah crossing would be closed until further notice.

As a result of the airport attack, the Egyptian army announced a state of emergency in Suez and the South Sinai provinces, a state-owned newspaper reported.

It was not clear whether the attacks were coordinated and in reaction to the removal of Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi by the army.

Islamist militants believed to have links to Al-Qaeda have established a foothold in the sparsely populated desert peninsula, sometimes in league with local Bedouin smugglers and with Palestinian militants from Gaza.

Egypt has struggled to control security in the region since the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40
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