Militants eye new border attacks to 'harm Israel-Egypt ties', warns Israeli security official

AFP, Friday 26 Aug 2011

An Israeli security source warns that attacks similar to last week's bus-gunning which dominoed into a diplomatic crisis with Egypt are being planned to instigate problems between the countries

Militant groups are planning a number of attacks along the Israeli-Egyptian border in order to damage ties between the two countries, an Israeli security source told AFP on Thursday.

"There are very serious intelligence warnings that in order to harm Israel-Egypt relations, more attacks are being planned," he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

His remarks came a week after gunmen infiltrated Israel's southern Negev desert from the Sinai and carried out a coordinated series of shooting attacks on buses and cars on a road which runs alongside the Egyptian border some 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

Eight Israelis were killed and at least 26 wounded when militants armed with explosives, guns and grenades opened fire in a series of ambushes which took place over several hours.

During the hunt for the killers, five Egyptian policemen were shot dead by Israeli fire, sparking a diplomatic crisis between Egypt and Israel, with Cairo insisting that the Jewish state apologise.

During Thursday's hunt for the gunmen, defence officials were "certain" that nine gunmen involved in the attacks had been killed "in Israeli territory or on the border," the source said.

Officials had earlier said seven gunmen were killed -- three of them who died in Israeli territory, and four who were shot dead on the Egyptian side of the border by Israel and Egyptian troops.

Up to 20 gunmen are thought to have been involved in the attack which Israel has blamed on the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees (PRC).

"They definitely were sent by PRC," he said, but had no information about media reports suggesting a number of the attackers were Egyptian nationals.

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