Egypt Launches "Operation Eagle" in Sinai
Egyptian troops launched "Operation Eagle" in Sinai killing 1 terrorist and arresting 16 others the day after denying it would do so.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 8/15/2011, 6:57 PM
Egyptian Tank (Sinai)
Egyptian troops and policemen battled with gunmen in the Sinai peninsula Monday, killing one and arresting 16 others, a security official and state television said.
The fighting came as the security forces launched raids to hunt down terrorists suspected of attacking police stations and the gas pipeline to Israel on five occasions this year and, the official said.
Around 1,000 soldiers and policemen forces deployed on Friday and Saturday in northern Sinai to carry out the operation dubbed "Eagle."
Yesterday Egyptian officials denied "Eagle" existed and insisted forces deployed last Friday to the Sinai would not conduct operations saying "We will not fight our own people."
However, a man was killed at dawn Monday during an exchange of fire between suspects wanted by the Egyptian authorities and soldiers and policemen, according to reports.
"Ten people suspected of involvement in the Sinai attacks were arrested," the official said, adding that three automatic rifles and four grenades were also seized.
Egyptian state television earlier reported that security forces also arrested six suspected terrorists, members of a group calling itself the Army of the Liberation of Islam.
The operation came two days after terrorists distributed fliers in Rafiah -- signed "Al-Qaeda in Sinai" -- threatening more attacks on police, according to a witness, after a deadly attack at the end of July, two weeks earlier, killed a military officer and three bystanders.
The 1979 Camp David Accords with Egypt limit the number and type of forces Egypt can deploy in Sinai. Egypt is so far taking care not to take unilateral action.
Earlier Monday, Israeli public radio reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved Egypt's request to increase the number of troops in the Sinai to "restore order" in the region.
While Egypt is employing tanks in the operation, officials say they had to deploy them unarmed -- presumably without tank shells -- so as not to violate the 1979 Camp David Accords with Israel.