North Sinai residents near Rafah border begin evacuation

Ahram Online, Tuesday 28 Oct 2014

Residents near Rafah border crossing with Gaza given short notice to clear out, as army begins evacuating parts of North Sinai after Friday's attack on military checkpoint

A man and child walk past a crater from a suicide car bomb attack on the road between the border town of Rafah and the coastal city of el-Arish, Egypt. (Photo: AP)
North Sinai residents near the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip are being evacuated, as Egypt's army steps up its campaign in the area against militants, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported on Tuesday.
Residents within an area 300 meters west of the Rafah border were told to leave their houses within hours on Tuesday, as the deadline for evacuation ends on Wednesday.
The evacuation zone will eventually be 500 meters from the eastern Rafah border and 13.8 kilometres long to the south.
A number of houses have already been evacuated, with some residents moving to their relatives' houses. Some locals were dismayed because of the decision, saying it was made abruptly without enough time for them to make the necessary arrangements to move, Al-Ahram reported.
However, other locals said that those who rent new houses will be financially compensated.
An army checkpoint was hit with a car bomb in the North Sinai city of Sheikh Zuweid on Friday, killing 31 soldiers and injuring 30 others in the worst attack on Egypt's military personnel in years.
The attack has not yet been claimed by any militant group. However, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, an Al-Qaeda offshoot based in the peninsula, has claimed similar attacks in the last year as retribution for the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi and a clampdown on his Islamist sympathisers.
The evacuation comes after a state of emergency was declared in North Sinai following the attack, along with a curfew in other parts of the peninsula.
An anonymous military source told Al-Ahram that the evacuation plan costs around LE250 million in compensation for the first group of displaced residents.
He added that meetings between authorities and tribal leaders, many of whom support the evacuation plan, are still ongoing to agree on a final figure for compensations.
The Egyptian army has been facing a decade-long jihadist militant insurgency in Sinai, with militant attacks increasing over the past year and expanding into Cairo and the Nile Delta, killing hundreds of army and police personnel. Civilians have also been caught up in the violence.
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