Situation In Sinai Is ‘Extremely Dangerous’ As Egypt Moves Against Militants

The news that Egypt’s military has attacked groups of what it says are “Islamist militants” in the Sinai with missiles from aircraft and shells fired from tanks underscores how “extremely dangerous” the situation has quickly become along that nation’s border with Israel, NPR’s Leila Fadel said earlier today on Morning Edition.

With so much happening on that border “it’s possible that this will escalate,” she told host Steve Inskeep. The Egyptian military hasn’t undertaken such operations in the Sinai since the 1973 war with Israel. Now, it is going after militants for the first time since new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi — from the once-repressed Muslim Brotherhood — took office. As Leila has previously reported, the situation in Sinai is a huge challenge for Egypt’s new leader, who must show he can protect his country, work with its army and keep things from spilling across the border.

The Egyptian military’s moves against the militants follows an attack by those militants Sunday that left 16 Egyptian border guards dead.

Militants struck again in the region Tuesday night, The New York Times writes, “when, at around 11 p.m. in what appeared to be a series of coordinated assaults, gunmen fired on at least seven government checkpoints as well as a military cement factory, according to security officials.”

According to The Washington Post, the military’s strikes early today “killed at least 20 suspected militants, state television reported. There was no independent corroboration of the claim, but witnesses confirmed hearing warplanes and loud blasts in the area overnight.”

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