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EGYPT: Six dead in assault on Sinai police station

July 30, 2011 |  1:39 pm

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Six people were killed and more than 20 were injured when armed men attacked a police station in Egypt's troubled Sinai Peninsula on Friday, security sources told state news agency MENA on Saturday.

About 100 masked gunmen carrying flags with Islamic slogans while riding motorcycles and four-wheel-drive vehicles attempted to storm the police station in the city of Al Arish, MENA reported. Police and military forces fought back for several hours before the attackers retreated.  

A policeman and a military officer, in addition to three civilians standing by near the station, were killed. One of the attackers also died. Shortly after the assault, Al Arish’s military commander told Egyptian state television that those responsible for the attack were connected to Mohammed Dahlan, a former member of the Central Committee for the Palestinian Fatah party. Dahlan denied involvement.

Egyptian authorities announced on Saturday that 15 of the attackers were arrested, including 10 Palestinian nationals. The other five remain unidentified.

The assault was followed by an overnight attack over a cooling system in the Sinai pipeline shipping Egyptian natural gas exports to Israel. Security sources said that the attack, which is the fifth on the pipeline since February, was carried out by gunmen using rocket-propelled grenades. No casualties were reported. The pipeline has been empty of gas since the latest explosion on July 11.

Authorities blamed unnamed saboteurs for the assault. Sinai, where Bedouins often complained of marginalization and lack of opportunities and services under former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, has become increasingly restive. The region is known for weapons smuggling and has become a rallying point for many Egyptians opposed to their country shipping natural gas to Israel.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: An explosion at the Sinai gas pipeline last month. Credit: AFP

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