- - Sunday, August 5, 2012

Egypt

EL-ARISH — Masked gunmen killed 13 Egyptian guards Sunday at a security checkpoint along the border with Gaza and Israel, attacking with automatic rifles and weapons mounted on their vehicles, a security official said.

Egypt blamed Islamist terrorists.

The Israeli military said the attack was part of a plot to abduct an Israeli soldier. Two vehicles commandeered by the attackers crashed into Israel, where one blew up, the army added.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel’s military and the internal security agency “thwarted an attack that could have injured many.”

“The militants’ attack methods again raise the need for determined Egyptian action to enforce security and prevent terror in the Sinai,” he said.

The attack took place around sunset in the Egyptian border town Rafah, when the troops were having the traditional meal at the end of the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Egyptian state TV said the attack on the checkpoint was carried out by Islamist militants. It quoted a security official who said 13 troops were killed in the attack coordinated between Palestinians who entered Egypt from Gaza and Egyptians in Sinai.

It was one of the bloodiest attacks in Sinai in years, underlining the growing lawlessness of the Egyptian territory, where security forces have become targets of militants, some loosely linked with al Qaeda.

Mali

Rebels snatch childrenfor soldiers, sex slaves

BAMAKO — Islamist rebels have kidnapped hundreds of children to use as soldiers or sex slaves, human rights campaigners told reporters Sunday.

“We have several hundred children aged between 9 and 17 years old within the ranks of the armed groups, including the Islamists, who control northern Mali,” said Mamoud Lamine Cisse, president of a Malian child rights coalition.

“After investigations, we have corroborating information that these children are used as soldiers, minesweepers, scouts, spies, messengers, lookouts, cooks and sexual slaves in the case of young girls,” he said.

The children are mostly from Mali, Senegal and Niger, he added.

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