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Egyptian border guards killed at Sinai checkpoint

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has promised to bring to justice the perpetrators of an attack in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 16 members of the security forces. The border with the Gaza strip has been closed.

Security and medical sources said gunmen in Bedouin attire and driving two vehicles opened fire on the post after sunset while the guards were having their meal to break their Ramadan daylight fast. At least four other security personnel were wounded.

Egyptian state television claim the attack has blamed Islamist extremists. The Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has denied that Palestinian militants were responsible for the attack.

The Israeli military said the attack was part of a thwarted plot to abduct an Israeli soldier, also saying both the vehicles entered Israel after the attack, with one of them blowing up.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the "militants' attack methods again raise the need for determined Egyptian action to enforce security and prevent terror in Sinai."

Attack preceded by pamphlets

The attack at Sheikh Zuwaid, about 15 kilometers from the Palestinian-inhabited Gaza Strip, came after Islamist militants had distributed pamphlets calling on Egypt's army to leave the north of the peninsula.

Last year, Egypt's military sent soldiers and tanks into the region to quell Bedouin who were long marginalized under Egypt's previous strongman Hosni Mubarak. Over the past year, a gas pipeline that crosses northern Sinai and supplies Israel und Jordan has often been attacked, allegedly by local militants.

The region is a popular Red Sea tourist destination. On Friday, Egypt's new president Mohamed Morsi had pledged to guarantee safety for visitors. Tourism numbers are still recovering after last year's popular uprising against Mubarak.

On Thursday, the counter-terrorism bureau in Israel, which has a 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, had urged Israelis to leave Egypt's Sinai, warning that attacks might be imminent. .

ipj/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa)