Egyptian security authorities were set to hold a press conference Saturday to name a number of terror suspects in the August 5 Gaza-Egypt-Isra
The authorities were also set to disclose new details of the attack, in which Sinai-based terror cells attacked an Egyptian base near the border, gunned down the guards as they were eating a meal to break the Ramadan fast, and then smashed across the border into Israel in a stolen Egyptian army armored vehicle before being thwarted by the Israel air force and ground forces.
Saturday’s scheduled announcement may be intended to offset reports that Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, was using former jihadists to mediate with radical Islamists in Sinai, trying to ensure a halt in terror attacks in return for stopping the military offensive he launched after the August 5 attack in the peninsula.
Egyptian armed forces have killed 32 “criminal elements” in the ongoing operation, military spokesman Ahmed Mohammed Ali said Saturday. They have arrested another 38 people and destroyed more than 30 smuggling tunnels that ran from Gaza to Egypt.
Ali referred to the first portion of the Egypt’s military campaign in Sinai as “very successful,” and said it would continue until all the army’s goals are achieved.
The spokesman also hinted that the army has operated within the framework of the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement, the 1979 Camp David Accords. He said Egypt has acted “alone” and according to “all international agreements” in its pursuit of terror operatives in the peninsula.
Earlier Saturday, gunmen staged another attack on Egyptian security forces in northern Sinai, near the border with Gaza, AFP reported, citing Egyptian security officials. Two vehicles filled with gunmen approached the Sheikh Zwayyid police station early in the morning, and exchanged fire with the officers. There were no reported injuries.
Cairo officials were said earlier this week to have identified seven of the terrorists who were behind the attack. An Israel Radio report quoted Egyptian Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal El-Din as telling government paper Al-Akhbar that one of the suspects was an Egyptian citizen who belonged to a sleeper cell of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.
Earlier reports indicated that Egypt suspects that four Gaza-based terrorists played a role in the attack.
Last Saturday, Egypt said it had arrested a high-level Islamist militant in the Sinai Peninsula, and vowed to keep up military operations to “cleanse” the desert region.
Yifa Yaakov and The Associated Press contributed to this report.