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Gunmen Launch Deadly Attacks on Israeli Buses Near Egyptian Border

August 18, 2011

Aug. 18: A passenger bus was attacked by gunmen along the Israeli-Egyptian border.

Israel’s military spokesman says a series of attacks have occurred in the country, as assailants targeted Israeli soldiers, a passenger bus and another vehicle near the border with Egypt.

The spokesman, Brig-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, says there are fatalities as well as wounded. He says civilians and soldiers are among the casualties. At least five people were killed and 14 were injured.

“We are talking about a terror squad that infiltrated into Israel,” said Israeli military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich. “This is a combined terrorist attack against Israelis.”

The attacks began when a gunmen opened fire on a passenger bus near the Israeli-Egyptian border. The military spokesman said a roadside bomb was detonated when a military patrol arrived at the scene of the bus attack and drove over the device. Gunmen then launched an anti-tank missile at another vehicle, injuring passengers inside.

Channel 10 TV reported a fourth attack by gunmen, but there was no official confirmation or details.

Israeli security forces tracked down some of the assailants and are engaged in an ongoing gunbattle with them, Mordechai said. The military said several assailants had been killed in the shootout with Israeli forces, but did not give a number.

A doctor at the main hospital in the area said the medical facility had been put on an emergency alert. Israel Radio said roadblocks were thrown up in the area and that entrances and exits to Eilat were sealed. Senior Israeli defense officials convened an emergency session at the defense ministry in Tel Aviv.

“This seems like a coordinated attack,” a senior IDF officer told the Jerusalem Post.

Military spokesman Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai says the attackers used heavy weapons, possibly mortars or anti-tank weapons, and explosive devices during the attacks.


The IDF suspects that the gunmen infiltrated Israel through the Egyptian border.

“The incident underscores the weak Egyptian hold on Sinai and the broadening of the activities of terrorists,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a statement. “The real source of the terror is in Gaza and we will act against them with full force and determination.”

Egypt has been conducting raids on Al Qaeda-inspired militants in Sinai who have taken advantage of the security vacuum in the area following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak’s in February to launch increasingly brazen attacks on police patrols and a key pipeline that carries natural gas to Jordan and Israel.

On Monday, troops backed by armored vehicles carried out five raids in el-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, security officials said. In one location, they clashed with gunmen, killing one, and arrested four others.

The five included four Egyptians from outside the Sinai and one Palestinian from Gaza who belongs to the Islamic Jihad militant faction, the officials said.

All five had broken out of Egyptian prisons during the chaos surrounding the country’s uprising and fled to the northern Sinai, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Security forces also arrested seven other people Monday who had been in prison on criminal charges and fled during the uprising.

Fox News’ Leland Vittert in Israel and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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