Egypt vows crackdown on "infidels" after border massacre
By Yusri Mohamed
RAFAH, Egypt (Reuters) - Egypt branded Islamist gunmen who killed 16 police near the Israeli border as "infidels" and promised on Monday to launch a crackdown following the massacre that has strained Cairo's ties with both Israel and Palestinians.
An Egyptian official said insurgents crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip before attacking the border station on Sunday. They then stole two vehicles and headed to nearby Israel, where they were eventually killed by Israeli fire.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday up to eight assailants were killed in the attack, adding he hoped the incident would serve as a "wake-up call" to Egypt, accused by Israel of having lost control of the desert Sinai peninsula.
The bloodshed represented an early diplomatic test for Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist who took office at the end of June after staunch U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year in a popular uprising.
Mursi visited the border area on Monday, accompanied by the head of Egypt's military, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. The army sent in reinforcements and stepped up checkpoints.
Mubarak cooperated closely with Israel on security and suppressed Islamist movements such as Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, which rejects violence to achieve its goals but whose leaders often voiced hostility towards the Jewish state.
Egypt's military, which still holds many levers of power, called the attackers "infidels" and said it had been patient until now in the face of instability in Sinai.
"But there is a red line and passing it is not acceptable. Egyptians will not wait for long to see a reaction to this event," it said in a statement on its Facebook page. Continued...