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Egypt's Army Says It Is "On Alert" In Sinai

posted 5 Jul 2013, 05:49 by Mpelembe   [ updated 5 Jul 2013, 05:50 ]

Egypt's army says it is on high alert after Islamist gunmen attack an airport in theSinai town of El Arish.

SINAIEGYPT (JULY 4, 2013) (REUTERS) -  The Egyptian army has not declared a state of emergency in South Sinaiand Suez provinces, a spokesman said on Friday (July 5), denying a report by state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram.

The spokesman said the army in the Sinai peninsula was "on alert". Al-Ahram had reported that raised alert levels were in response to an overnight attack by Islamistgunmen on an airport in the North Sinai town of El-Arish.

The attack, the latest of a string of security incidents in the lawless region, came two days after the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi. It was not clear if the attacks were coordinated and in reaction to his removal.

The attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at the army checkpoints outside the airport, close to the border with the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Sinai residents said there was an atmosphere of total confusion in the area.

''Frankly, I think that people here no longer know whether what they are doing is right or wrong. For me, I don't know who to believe, this side or this side. I have let everything go and still, I don't know who to follow,'' said one man.

Islamist militant groups have expanded into a security vacuum in Sinai that the state has struggled to fill since Hosni Mubarak was swept from power in 2011.

The groups have attacked targets in North Sinai and launched raids into Israel.