Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

8 killed in mortar attack in Egypt

Medics carry a 14-year-old Palestinian from Gaza into an ambulance on their way to el-Arish, after Egypt reopened its border crossing (AP)

Militants in Egypt fired mortar rounds at a military post, killing a soldier as well as seven civilians, including two children, at a nearby residential complex.

The attack happened in northern Sinai, in the provincial capital of el-Arish, and a senior security official said it hit the military post, killing the soldier.

The military post is located near a compound of residential buildings in the al-Salam district, and t he main security headquarters and the local government offices are also in the same area.

The official said a supermarket, pharmacy and a residential building were also hit by mortar fire.

Samy Anwar, the head of el-Arish hospital, said seven civilians were killed in the attack, including a 10-year old girl and a 12-year old boy. He said 24 others were wounded, including an 11-year-old girl.

The attack comes as Israel's offensive against the neighbouring Gaza Strip enters its sixth day. More than 160 Palestinians have been killed.

Palestinian militant groups have fired rockets at Israel but caused no deaths. Despite international calls for a ceasefire, the violence showed no sign of easing.

Militants in Sinai have also fired rockets at Israel in support of Palestinian groups in the past days. Officials said they foiled a new attempt to fire rockets at Israel yesterday.

Militants have found a haven in northern Sinai, particularly after the turmoil in Egypt since 2011.

They have mainly targeted military and police forces in the peninsula, and rarely hit civilians, in a wave of attacks that increased following the ousting of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The military has waged an offensive against the militants in the Sinai, reducing the attacks against troops. But the militant groups have increasingly pushed their attacks toward Cairo and other provinces in Egypt.

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