Taba border crossing to Egypt to remain closed, says Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau

Ahram Online , Wednesday 19 Apr 2017

The Taba border crossing to Egypt will remain closed, Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau (CTB) said on Tuesday, only a few hours before an attack claimed by the Islamic State militant group took place on a Saint Catherine's Monastery security checkpoint in South Sinai, killing one policeman and injuring four others.

The bureau said it decided to extend the border closure--first implemented last week--following a "situational assessment."

Late on Tuesday, Egypt's interior ministry announced that a group of militants had opened fire on the security checkpoint, located on a road to St Catherine's Monastery near the summit of Mount Catherine.

The assailants escaped the scene following an exchange of fire with security forces.

“The decision [to keep the Taba crossing closed] will be revisited continuously over the next few days, in accordance with the situation,” the CTB said in a Tuesday evening statement.

Last week, Israel closed the crossing following a warning from its anti-terrorism office of an "imminent" militant attack in Egypt.

Israeli officials attributed the closure to intelligence on potential "terror attacks" against tourists in the Sinai peninsula. The crossing remains open for those seeking to return from Israel to Egypt.

The initial decision to close the crossing came a day after twin bombings on Coptic cathedrals in Egypt's Al-Gharbeya and Alexandria governorates during Palm Sunday services killed at least 47 people and injured dozens.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Palm Sunday attacks.

Sinai has traditionally been a popular vacation destination for Israelis — especially during the upcoming Passover holiday. Israel has urged its citizens to avoid the area in recent years, however, due to Islamic militant activity.


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