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article imageEgypt launches 'Sinai Cleansing Operation' with air strikes

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By Darren Weir     Aug 8, 2012 in World
Egypt has launched air strikes as troops raided villages in the Sinai to hunt down Islamic terrorists following a border attack on Sunday that left 16 Egyptian security forces dead.
The Jerusalem Post reports that more than 20 suspected terrorists were killed in what is being called Egypt's largest military operation in the Sinai region since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The Jerusalem Post quotes witnesses in the town of Sheikh Zouaid, about 10 km from Gaza, saying they saw two military jets and heard explosions and some say they saw three cars hit.
Reuters reports troops stormed into the the village of al-Toumah, 20 km further south, after the army received intelligence that the militants were holed up there. An Egyptian military commander tells Reuters, "We have succeeded in entering al-Toumah village, killed 20 terrorists and destroyed three armoured cars belonging to terrorists. Operations are still ongoing."
A villager reports he saw military helicopters chasing vehicles out of al-Toumah and heard rocket fire. The terrorists fired back with machine guns. An army general tells Reuters, "They tried to escape in three vans but the helicopter met them on the other side, fired rockets at them and destroyed the three vehicles."
Reuters reports the military action follows clashes overnight between gunmen and security forces at several police checkpoints in Arish and the nearby town of Rafah, on the border with Israel. One policeman and one resident were reported injured in the attacks.
Armed men opened fire on several checkpoints in el-Arish and in the nearby town of Rafah on the border with Israel, according to a Reuters reporter and state media.
A Reuters reporter said one policeman and one resident had been confirmed wounded in these attacks.
Ynet News says Egypt believes there are about 2000 terrorists hiding out in the area.
Haaretz says lawlessness has been rampant in the Sinai Desert region, bordering Israel, since last year's uprising that resulted in the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
After Sunday's deadly attack on a security outpost by Islamic Terrorists who had tried to break through the border into Israel, Egypt has vowed a crackdown in the region. Egypt believes the terrorists had slipped into Egypt from Gaza. Underground tunnels from Gaza to Egypt have been closed off as the military moved in to take charge of the region as reported by Digital Journal. Ynet News reports that media outlets in Gaza are reporting that Hamas is deploying troops along the Egyptian border and has raised the security alert level in an effort to prevent weapons from being smuggled from the Gaza into Egypt.
The Jerusalem Post says Israel Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Security bureau chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad is praising the military action saying Egypt is in control of the Sinai and doesn't need to coordinate with Israel on the action. "What we see in Egypt is a strong fury, a determination of the regime and the army to take care of it and impose order in Sinai because that is their responsibility."
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