Six Egyptians Killed in Gaza Border Town Bomb

Explosive planted underground in border town of Rafah claims six police officers, amid talk of PA security forces manning the town.

Ari Yashar,

Egyptian policeman (file)
Egyptian policeman (file)

Six Egyptian police officers were killed and two others wounded by an explosive planted underground near the Gaza border town of Rafah in the Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday, in the second such attack in the town in recent weeks.

According to an Egyptian security official the bomb was hidden under the asphalt of a highway in an area called Wadi Halfa, reports Al Jazeera.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attack bore the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda inspired local terror group. The attack also bears striking similarities to another attack two weeks ago that killed 11 Egyptian soldiers.

In that attack it was revealed by a senior security source in the Sinai that the explosive was planted in a tunnel under the main traffic circle of Rafah.

The reports about the tunnel in the Gaza border town raised suspicions that the attack was the first instance of a tunnel from Gaza to Sinai being used not for smuggling goods and weapons, but rather to carry out an attack, in what has been termed a "terror tunnel."

However, the jihadi group known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has reportedly sworn allegiance to the "Islamic State" (ISIS), claimed responsibility for the attack two weeks ago, posting a video showing its preparation and execution as terrorists of the group shouted "Allahu akbar."

The Sinai has been a highly unlawful haven for terrorists since tensions between the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood spilled over last July 3, when former Prime Minister Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted.

There has been a crackdown on the group, with Mohammed Badie, top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, sentenced to life in jail along with 14 others on Monday. The Tuesday attack may possibly be a response to that sentencing.

Regarding the Rafah Crossing, there has been talk of Egypt transferring control of the area to Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces, an issue that is likely to be raised in continuing ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas in Cairo this weekend.

Last Saturday a commander of the PA presidential guards said a list of PA officers from Gaza has already been prepared for deployment at the Rafah terminal and Philadelphi Corridor between Sinai and Gaza.

The officers are waiting for orders from the PA political echelon, and as soon as "orders are given, groups will be sent and reoriented." The troops are to undergo two months of training in Egypt.

There has been a large amount of smuggling through the hundreds of tunnels between Sinai and Gaza, which prior to the ceasefire had been effectively limited through an Egyptian siege.