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Egypt reopens its border with Gaza

Egypt has reopened the border crossing into Gaza, following weeks of fighting on the Sinai Peninsula. Authorities sealed off the crossing after suspected militants ambushed Egyptian soldiers in early August.

The Rafah border crossing from Egypt into Gaza was reopened on Saturday by Egyptian authorities. Saturday's announcement did not explain the timing of the decision, nor did it provide many details to officials in the Gaza Strip.

"The Egyptian side has informed us that the Rafah crossing would open all days of the week, without more details," Ehab Al-Ghsain, a spokesman for the interior ministry in Gaza, told the news agency Reuters.

In contrast, the official Egyptian news agency MENA reported that the crossing would only be open for six days a week, according to the news agency AFP.

Prior to Saturday's announcement, Egypt had opened the Rafah border for three days around mid-August in order to allow travel for humanitarian purposes, such as Palestinians seeking medical treatment abroad.

Egypt closed the border following an attack on Egyptian guards stationed on the Sinai Peninsula. A large group of suspected Islamist militants had ambushed the outpost on August 5, killing 16 soldiers.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi subsequently launched an offensive on the peninsula in an effort to eradicate the area of militants. The military operation was the largest Sinai had seen in decades.

Since early August, military engineers have also blocked off many of the tunnels that run under the border. Authorities suspect the gunmen responsible for the attack of using the tunnel network to cross into Egypt.

kms/ccp (AFP, Reuters)