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Police camp comes under fire in Sinai

20 May 2013, 15:30

Cairo - An Egyptian police camp came under fire with heavy weapons on Monday in the Sinai, where tensions have been running high since last week's kidnapping of security personnel, a security official said.

The official, quoted by state news agency MENA, said assailants opened fire "for 25 minutes using heavy weapons" against El-Ahrash camp in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, without reporting casualties.

"Personnel in charge of camp security managed to repel the attack and forced the armed men to flee," he said, adding that a hunt was underway.

On Sunday, President Mohammed Morsi ruled out negotiating with the kidnappers of three policemen and four soldiers who appeared to plead for their release in an online video.

The abductions last Thursday in the Sinai prompted angry police to shut down border crossings with Gaza and Israel.

A video posted on YouTube earlier on Sunday appeared to show the seven hostages, blindfolded and with their hands on their heads, identifying themselves.

One of them is prodded by what appears to be a rifle held by an abductor off screen before another hostage says the kidnappers want the release of detained Bedouin "political activists".

The video was later removed from YouTube, which posted a message saying it violated its "policy on violence".

The policemen, who worked at border crossings, and soldiers were kidnapped at gunpoint while travelling to their homes on leave.

Attacks on police and soldiers in the sparsely populated peninsula have surged since an uprising that overthrow president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, as have cross-border attacks on Israel.

In August 2012, suspected Islamist gunmen killed 16 Egyptian soldiers near Israel's border and commandeered an armoured vehicle into Israel, where they were stopped by a helicopter strike.



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