In a military audio statement aired on state television Monday afternoon, the armed forces presented their account of the deadly attack on the Egyptian-Israel border Sunday.
"A terrorist group of 35 people attacked a border guard south of Rafah Sunday evening at 7pm, right around Ramadan Iftar time, where 16 of our soldiers were martyred and 7 injured; three of them severely injured. The terrorist group then took over an army Armed Personnel Carrier and used it to penetrate the Egypt-Israel border where Israeli forces destroyed it."
The statement continues by pointing the finger at Palestinians in Gaza: "Coinciding with the attack, elements from the Gaza Strip carried out a mortar shell attack on the Karam Abu-Salem border crossing."
Similarly, an anonymous Egyptian security official was quoted by Egypt's state-run news agency, MENA, as saying that Islamist elements who infiltrated Egypt from the Gaza Strip through tunnels are behind the attacks, along with other Islamists situated in the areas of Al-Halal Mountain and Al-Mahdia in eastern Sinai. However Hamas, for its part, denied its involvement in the attacks.
Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian faction that controls Gaza, has vehemently denied any involvement in the attack on Egyptian soldiers, and has deployed its security forces to monitor the Gaza-Egypt border.
The military statement expresses grief for the lives lost and pledges an intensification of security measures in Sinai. "This terrorist act will only reinforce the determination of armed forces to protect the security of their lands and borders. This incident exemplifies the threats facing Sinai. The armed forces will cooperate with Sinai citizens and the interior ministry to regain security and stability as soon as possible no matter the sacrifices."
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi met with members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces late Sunday night to discuss the situation. In a televised speech earlier, Morsi had vowed that the assailants will be punished.