CAIRO, Sept 7: At least 10 people were killed as Egypt’s armed forces launched an air and ground assault on Sinai militants on Saturday while foiling a railway bombing near the canal city of Suez, officials said.
A military-appointed prosecutor levelled new accusations, meanwhile, against deposed president Mohamed Morsi, already facing trial on other charges, alleging the leader insulted the judiciary when he was president, military-controlled state media said.
Egypt has seen an uptick in bombings and shootings, mostly aimed at the security forces, since August 14 when over 2,000 people were killed by the brutal military crackdown on two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo. The crackdown invites worldwide condemnation against the new military rulers.
The military claimed it has been facing an insurgency in north Sinai, a haven for Al Qaeda-inspired militants who launch almost daily attacks against security forces.
And on Saturday it pressed a crackdown on suspected militants on the sensitive peninsula bordering with Israel.
Air strikes were carried out on suspected militant hideouts while armoured vehicles were deployed in the area and along the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip, officers said.
Security officials said at least 10 Islamist fighters were killed in the air attacks launched by US-built Apache helicopters and in ground operations, while 20 others were wounded and 15 arrested.
The military has stepped up its operations against suspected Sinai militants over the past few weeks and frequently report the deaths of terrorists.
The latest report cannot be verified because the area is closed to the media.
Also on Saturday, Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing for security reasons, said Maher Abu Sabha, the crossing’s director in the Gaza Strip.
Elsewhere, police called in military bomb disposal experts after residents from Abu Aref village said they spotted a bomb on the railroad that links Suez with another canal city, Ismailiya.
Two mortar rounds and a rocket-propelled grenade were attached to a fuse and appeared to have been intended for a 6:00 am train, officials said.
Hours later, unidentified assailants hurled a grenade at a police station in Cairo, which exploded without causing any casualties, security officials said.
It was the third such attack after the military takeover on July 3 on the police station in the working class neighbourhood of Boulaq al-Daqrour.
The developments raised tensions after a car bomb targeted military-appointed Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Thursday as he left his house for work.
Mr Ibrahim, who was unhurt in the attack that killed one person and wounded several others, warned afterwards of a wave of terrorism.
The Muslim Brotherhood-led opposition group demanding the reinstatement of first democratically and fairly elected president Mohamed Morsi and denounced the assassination attempt, and said they remained committed to peaceful protests.Mr Morsi has been held by the military since his overthrow by army chief Gen Abdel Fattah el-Sisi coup on July 3 and the military-appointed prosecutor issued a new detention order for him over his comments that judges had rigged a 2005 parliamentary election.
The railroad between Suez and Ismailiya lies on the west bank of the Suez Canal, with the Sensitive Sinai Peninsula bordering with Israel to the east.
On September 1, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, Admiral Mohab Mamish, said a militant launched an attack against a Panamanian-flagged ship passing through the vital waterway.—AFP