Gunmen attack forces in central Sinai

Gunmen attack forces in central Sinai

No injuries reported in latest clash; five suspected terrorists indicted

Gunmen opened fire on peacekeepers in the central Sinai peninsula early Sunday morning. No injuries were reported.

The attack took place near the town of Umm Shyhan.

There have been a number of shooting attacks on Egyptian forces in the Sinai since last Sunday, when terrorists killed 16 Egyptian border policemen in Rafah and smashed across the Israeli border, where they were killed by Israeli troops.

Egypt responded by carrying out air strikes in the northern peninsula last week and running ground operations to capture or kill terrorists there, the largest such offensive since Egypt took control of the Sinai over 30 years ago.

On Saturday, an Egyptian security official said authorities had accused five terrorists of training jihadists in an initial indictment linked to the attack.

The official said some of the five were also accused of involvement in previous attacks on police stations, smuggling weapons and human trafficking between Egypt, the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The five accused on Saturday were among the first to be arrested since Sunday’s attack.

The peninsula is seen as largely lawless territory, with authorities in Egypt and Israel claiming Bedouin tribes have allied with Islamist groups in smuggling and terror operations.

Before last week’s offensive, Egypt had been largely unable to keep more than a small border police force in much of the territory as part of the peace treaty with Israel, which called for the desert area to be used as a demilitarized buffer between the states.

Israel has so far let Egypt act freely in the peninsula, which has also been the launching point for a number of terror attack on Israel in the past year, including a large coordinated attack on August 18, 2011 that left eight Israelis dead.

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