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Saturday, December 2, 2006

Egypt searches Sinai for Palestinians suspected of planning attack

Last update - 23:24 02/12/2006

Egypt searches Sinai for Palestinians suspected of planning attack

By Reuters

Egyptian security forces raided dozens of seaside villas and apartments in the
Sinai peninsula on Saturday, hunting four Palestinians suspected of planning
attacks on Israeli tourists, security sources said.

"The Egyptian security apparatus received confirmed information about four
Palestinians who belong to one of the extremist Palestinian factions sneaking
into Egyptian territory across the international border between Egypt and
Gaza," one of the sources said.

The sources said the Palestinians were believed to have entered Egypt five
days ago and Egyptian authorities were conducting their search in north Sinai.

The Palestinians were suspected of seeking to carry out attacks on Israeli
tourists in retaliation for a 5-month Israeli offensive in Gaza, the sources

The offensive ended this week after Palestinian militants said they would halt
rocket fire from Gaza if Israel stopped targeting Palestinians in Gaza.

Egypt is calling on Sinai landlords to inform police immediately of any
Palestinians staying in their villas or furnished flats.

Egyptian beaches are a popular vacation destination for Israelis. Israeli
holidaymakers were among those killed in a series of bomb attacks on Sinai
tourist resorts since October 2004 in which more than 100 people have died.

Egypt has blamed the bomb attacks on an Islamist group called al-Tawhid wal
Jihad (One God and Jihad) and says the group is made up of Sinai Bedouin with
militant views. Three men have been sentenced to death for organizing the

The raids come a week after the visit of Egyptian intelligence chief Omar
Suleiman's visit to Israel.

Israeli officials told Suleiman they believed Egyptian security forces were
not doing enough against Palestinian militant activity.

Following the raids, the government's Counter Terrorist Unit elevated the
travel alert to Egypt to the highest level.

A government warning has been in place for several years against Israelis
traveling to Egypt, and those currently visiting there are strongly advised to
return to Israel.

Three members of Tawhid and Jihad - Younes Mohammed Mahmoud, Osama al-Nakhlawi
and Mohammed Jaez Sabbah - were convicted on Thursday and sentenced to death
for their part in the 2004 bombings of the Sinai resort Taba Hilton hotel,
which killed 11 Israelis and wounded more than 100 people.

Israel occupied Sinai in the 1967 Six-Day War and handed it back to Egypt
under a 1979 peace treaty.

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