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article imageEgyptian officials claim Israeli drone attack kills 5 in Sinai

By Ken Hanly     Aug 9, 2013 in World
Cairo - Two senior Egyptian security officials claim that an Israeli drone attack in the northern Sinai killed five suspected Islamic militants and also destroyed a rocket launcher on Friday (Aug 9).
There has been no official confirmation of the strike by the Israeli government. Israel may want to avoid embarrassing the Egyptian military by acknowledging the strike. Even so, the Egyptian official news agency MENA said that an explosion destroyed a rocket launcher that had been set up near the Israeli border to launch attacks into Israel. The agency also reported that at least five Islamic militants were killed. An Egyptian military spokesperson denied the explosion was caused by an Israeli drone strike but gave no alternative explanation.
An Egyptian official reported that the bodies were charred from the blast. He said four of the dead appeared to belong to one family whose members were wanted on terrorism charges. Egyptian officials said that the drone had been flying on the Israeli side of the border for hours before the attacks and the attack was from Israeli territory that is about five kilometers (3 miles) from the attack site. A few minutes after the attack an Egyptian helicopter was seen flying over the area.
The drone attack could signal a new level of cooperation between the Egyptian and Israeli military forces. The Egyptian military accused ousted president Morsi of turning a blind eye to the presence of Islamic militants in the Sinai. The anonymous Egyptian security officials said that the Israeli attack was mounted in cooperation with Egyptian authorities. In the past, the Egyptian government said that it would not allow anyone to use its territories to launch attacks on jihadist groups. Israel is building a barrier along the 230 kilometer (150 mile) border to keep out both militants and African migrants.
The Israeli military claims to be looking into the report but Egyptian military spokesperson Col. Ahmed Ali said at first that security forces were investigating the explosions. Later, he denied "in form and substance any attacks from the Israeli side inside Egyptian territories" and saying the claim of cooperation was "baseless."
Just a day before the drone attack, Israel had briefly closed its airport in the Red Sea resort of Eilat, close to the Sinai, as there were security warnings about a possible rocket attack on the resort In the past, the resort has been targeted by rocket attacks emanating from the Sinai.
More about Sinai, Egypt Israel relations, Islamic militants
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