Egyptian soldier guards Rafiah crossing
Egyptian soldier guards Rafiah crossing Reuters

Seven terrorists have been killed by Egyptian soldiers following raids on hideouts in a northern Sinai village. Security officials said military forces had targeted the villages of al-Ghora and al-Mahdiyah near El Arish.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media, officials said an anti-aircraft missile, landmines and heavy machine guns were seized as well.

Earlier in the day three Egyptian police officers were killed and four wounded when their vehicle flipped over during pursuit of “armed criminals” on the international road in central Sinai.

The official Egyptian state news agency, MENA, did not reveal the identities of the criminals nor the crime for which they were being chased.

The deaths of the terrorists also comes in the wake of a massive operation by the Egyptian government to try and bring security in the Sinai Peninsula back under some control.

Cairo last week ordered a huge military and police force into the Sinai to arrest the terrorists who earlier in the week had killed between 16 and 20 Egyptian soldiers on the country's border with Israel as they broke their daily Ramadan fast. The terrorists then attempted to infiltrate the border into Israel near the Kerem Shalom crossing, but it is not clear whether they succeeded. IDF forces searched the area, along with local Negev Bedouin tribal assistance.

Israel has warned that Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists have been migrating from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula to set up terrorist training camps, and have begun launching operations from the region. 

The Rafiah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, some 350 km (217 miles) northeast of Cairo, was opened on Friday to allow the return of pilgrims from Saudi Arabia and those stranded on their way back to Gaza, according to MENA, citing a high-ranking official. However, the official was silent on how long the crossing would remain open.