The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Military says 21 Egyptian troops killed in an attack by gunmen in western desert near Libya

  • Print

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 neighbouring 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.

"Terrorism will be uprooted from every part of Egypt," a statement from the presidency said. It declared a three-day mourning period.

The attack was the second in as many months on the same post, where a border guards company is based. Coming just over a month after el-Sissi took office, the attack is the worst single loss for military troops in recent history.

It is also the second brazen attack on troops in recent years during the holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast from dawn to sundown. In the 2012, gunmen attacked a checkpoint near Egypt's border with Gaza and Israel, killing 16 soldiers.

The attack Saturday came less than an hour before sundown.

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.

The Saturday attack targeted a military border checkpoint in Egypt's largest province, the western desert governorate of Wadi el-Gedid, that 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.

According to a statement on the official Facebook page of Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir, a military spokesman, one of the gunmen's rockets struck a cache of weapons at the checkpoint, sparking an explosion. He said the attack killed 21 troops and forces later seized two car bombs before they exploded.

He identified the gunmen as "terrorists," but did not elaborate.

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.

MENA said this is the second time this border patrol company has come under attack from gunmen in the last few months. An earlier attack killed six troops, the agency said.

Egypt has long, porous borders with Sudan and Libya used by arms smugglers. Egypt has been flooded with weapons, mostly from Libya, following the 2011 civil war that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Fighters from Libya also have come into Egypt from these borders, security officials say.

Egypt has vowed to tighten security along its borders.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Police speak out on Red River search

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think volunteers dragging the Red River is a good idea?

View Results

Ads by Google