Gunmen attack Egypt troops, killing 21 near Libya-A A +A
Sunday, July 20, 2014
CAIRO -- Gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked a border guard post Saturday in Egypt's western desert in a brazen assault that killed 21 troops deployed in the province along the border with neighboring Libya.
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called it a "terrorist attack" on soldiers defending the country's borders that will "not go unanswered.”
The Saturday attack targeted a military border checkpoint in Egypt's largest province, the western desert governorate of Wadi el-Gedid, which runs along the border with Libya to the west and Sudan to the south.
The checkpoint links the Farafra Oasis, an ancient caravan routes between Libya and Egypt, and the Bahariya Oasis, closer to the capital.
In his official Facebook page, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir said one of the gunmen's rockets struck a cache of weapons at the checkpoint, sparking an explosion.
Another military official said about 20 gunmen in weapon-mounted vehicles took the checkpoint by surprise. Ensuing clashes killed three of the attackers, the official and the state news agency MENA said. A medic said some of the bodies were burned.
The official and medic spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
The attack was the second in as many months on the same post, where a border guards company is based.
In 2012, gunmen attacked a checkpoint near Egypt's border with Gaza and Israel, killing 16 soldiers.
El-Sissi, the former military chief, had vowed to fight terrorism, saying militant groups acting across borders were a threat not only to Egypt, but the region and the world.
Military and security forces have come under attack by militants in Egypt during the last three years of turmoil, with attacks increasing since el-Sissi removed his predecessor Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from office following mass protests against him. In the single worst attack on security forces, 25 members of the riot police were executed just over month after Morsi was ousted. (AP)