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Murdered in Cold Blood

Chilling evidence emerges of attack by Islamists which killed 25 Egyptian soldiers.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 8/19/2013, 7:39 PM

Aftermath of attack on Egyptian security forces, Aug. 19
Aftermath of attack on Egyptian security forces, Aug. 19
Reuters

The picture shows rows of men lying, face-down in the dirt, wrists bound, some already in body bags as investigators clear up the scene. All are dead.

The gruesome scene has been circulating among various media outlets, apparently showing the aftermath of an attack which killed 25 Egyptian soldiers. The attack took place this morning in northern Sinai, on the highway to the city of Rafah. 

Egyptian forces are carrying out an operation to root out Islamist terrorists based in the Sinai Peninsula who have escalated their attacks against Egyptian security forces and civilians since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in June. Terrorists have also engaged in sporadic attacks against Israel in recent weeks, including a rocket attack on the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

Initial reports alleged the soldiers had been ordered out of the buses they were travelling in by armed Islamists, forced to lie on the ground and shot at point-blank range. Those claims could not be verified at the time, but in the last few hours Egyptian activists have been circulating a photo of a document, purported to be a report from an ambulance worker at the scene of the attack, which appears to corroborate that version of events.

The Arabic document shows the causes of death of each of the victims, as "a shot in the back and another in the head," according to activists.

It is the latest deadly attack against Egyptian security forces since the Egyptian military crackdown on Sinai-based terrorists began last month.

On Thursday, terrorists in the Sinai peninsula killed seven Egyptian soldiers in an attack on a checkpoint, security officials said. Gunmen in two cars attacked the soldiers in their tents at a checkpoint near a police station in the northern town of El-Arish, the officials said.

But what makes this latest attack all the more chilling is that it involves the apparently cold-blooded murder of unarmed captives.

Meanwhile, bloody clashes between supporters of Morsi and security forces continue in central Egypt, as at least 36 Islamist prisoners have died in during an apparent attempt to escape during their transfer to a prison outside Cairo.

The Egyptian interior ministry gave conflicting accounts of the deaths, initially saying the men died from gunfire during an attack by unidentified gunmen.

The Muslim Brotherhood described that incident as "cold-blooded killing," as the war of words - and for the hearts and minds of international audiences - rages with equal fury.