Egypt's President Condemns Deadly Attack in Sinai
Attack near Gaza border killed at least 15 Egyptian soldiers and wounded nine others
Mohamed Fadel Fahmy CNN
August 06, 2012(CNN) -- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy condemned an attack on an army checkpoint near the border with Gaza that killed at least 15 Egyptian soldiers and wounded nine others, and he vowed Monday "to capture those who conducted this traitorous attack on our sons."
Israel said its forces had killed about five gunmen who entered its territory after seizing an armored vehicle during the attack.
The masked assailants carried out the assault Sunday with semiautomatic weapons and hand grenades as the Egyptian soldiers were breaking their Ramadan fast at sunset, officials said.
The violence took place at a checkpoint near the Rafah border crossing in the Sinai, a restive area of Egypt where there have been kidnappings and armed clashes in recent months.
The attackers seized two armored personnel carriers in the assault and drove them to the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.
One of the vehicles exploded at the border, and the other was attacked by Israel's air force as it was entering Israeli territory, according to the IDF.
Israeli soldiers found about five bodies nearby when they searched the area shortly after the personnel carrier was hit, the spokesman said.
Israel blamed militants associated with the group Global Jihad for the violence.
The Rafah border crossing has been closed indefinitely, North Sinai security official Ahmed Bakr said. And more Egyptian military forces have been deployed to the area to assist.
"Our forces will impose a full control on these areas," Morsy said in an address to the nation. "Sinai is safe and fully under control -- those who did this will pay a high price."
The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement Monday giving "condolences to Egypt and to the Egyptian people" after the attack, which "was meant to slay Israelis as well." The violence was "aimed at shattering the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt," it said.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak briefed a Knesset subcommittee on the incident.
"IDF forces ... showed vigilance, sharpness, and purposefulness in thwarting the terrorist attack that could have caused many casualties," he said. "The terrorists' operational means once again demonstrate the need for a determined move by our Egyptian counterparts in order to enforce the rule of law and security in the Sinai region."
According to the Israel Defense Forces website, IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said Sunday that Israel had obtained intelligence before the attack that "enabled the IDF to prevent the Global Jihad terrorists from infiltrating from Egypt into Israel. This is an extremely serious incident."
The IDF is "is in contact with the Egyptians and we will study this event, which is a product of the terror infrastructure in Sinai."
"We tracked this attempted attack, and fortunately there are no injuries among IDF forces or residents of the area," Mordechai said.
In recent months, Israeli forces have been involved in clashes with militants near the Jewish state's border with the Sinai. In June, attackers fired on Israelis working on the security barrier between the two countries.
Egyptian intelligence officials have said that cells of al Qaeda and other extremist groups are operating in Sinai.
Americans have been abducted in Sinai and then released shortly afterward several times so far this year.
Kidnappings and armed robberies have increased since a popular uprising ousted Egypt's long-ruling dictator, Hosni Mubarak, last year.
Morsy called on the military council Monday to hold an emergency meeting, state TV in Egypt reported.
Hamas, the movement that controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza, condemned the Sunday attack, calling it an "ugly crime."
Hamas officials closed all border tunnels connecting Gaza with Egypt after of the attack, according to Tahir Al-Nono, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.
CNN's Salma Abdelaziz, Yousuf Basil and Talal Abu-Rahma contributed to this report.