Egypt's president has declared three days of mourning after gunmen killed 21 troops at a border post. It was one of the biggest attacks in years.
The gunmen were armed with rocket-propelled grenades as they attacked the guard post in Wadi al-Gadid governorate, which borders both Sudan and Libya in western Egypt. A military official said about 20 gunmen in weapon-mounted vehicles took the checkpoint by surprise.
An army spokesman said a weapons storage facility was blown up by a rocket-propelled grenade in an exchange of fire, killing the soldiers and wounding four others.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi (photo) called the assault just before sundown on Saturday a "terrorist attack" but security officials said the assailants were smugglers. It is the holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast from dawn to sundown.
Security officials said militants pay smugglers to transport weapons across the border to Islamic insurgents in the Sinai peninsular near Israel. Five border guards were killed in a similar attack a few months ago.
"Terrorism will be uprooted from every part of Egypt," a statement from the presidency said as the three-day mourning period was declared.
Saturday's attack was the worst single loss for army troops since 2012 when gunmen attacked a checkpoint near Egypt's border with Gaza and Israel, killing 16 soldiers. Former military chief el-Sissi said it would "not go unanswered."
jm/av (Reuters, AP)