Egypt has deployed at least two helicopter gunships to the Sinai Peninsula in the hunt for terrorists behind the killing of 16 Egyptian soldiers at a checkpoint along the border with Israel, officials said.
Security and military officials said Monday that more aircraft were expected to arrive in the town of El-Arish ahead of a military campaign against the terrorists in the area.
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The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Suspected Islamists on Sunday evening attacked the Egyptian checkpoint, killed the troops, then stole two of their vehicles and burst through a security fence into Israel. Israeli aircraft then halted their assault.
Also on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured the site of the terror attack and inspected the armored vehicle used by the terrorists to infiltrate Israel before they were hit by an Israeli aircraft about two kilometers from the Egyptian border.
"Israel and Egypt obviously have a common interest in keeping the border quiet. Time and again we see that when it comes to the security of its citizens, the State of Israel can and must only trust itself," Netanyahu said while expressing his condolences over the death of the Egyptian troops.
Barak, for his part, urged Cairo to "take matters into its own hands," adding "I have no doubt that the new government (in Egypt) will examine this incident."
Meanwhile, Egyptian media reported that Egyptian army units have "completely surrounded" the city of Rafah (on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza) as part of the effort to apprehend suspects in the terror attack.
In a report published on Al-Ahram's online edition Monday morning, the security source is quoted as saying that Egyptian army helicopters, accompanied by ground forces, have launched a manhunt for the suspects in the deadly attack on an Egyptian police station in the northern Sinai Peninsula, near the border with Israel.
The forces have surrounded Rafah to prevent the suspects from escaping, the report said.
According to reports, on Sunday an Egyptian military helicopter hit a large number of tunnels that lead to Gaza. The army has also confiscated vehicles that were missing their license plates and arrested numerous suspects in Sinai.
The reports said that during Sunday's attack the Egyptian army fired two missiles toward a group of armed terrorists.
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