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Sources: Egypt to keep Rafah crossing closed due to security concerns

Jan. 12, 2016 7:26 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 12, 2016 7:26 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma’an) – An Egyptian security source on Tuesday told Ma'an that the Rafah crossing will remain closed until Jan. 25th, due to security concerns.

The source explained that Egyptian intelligence received alerts about militant groups in the Sinai Peninsula planning to carry out a “major terrorist attack” during commemoration of 2011's January 25th Egyptian revolution, which sparked upheaval across the country.

In preparation against possible attacks, Egyptian authorities have declared a state of alert. 

Meanwhile, a Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said in a statement Tuesday that his movement submitted suggestions to a delegation representing Palestinian factions about the movement’s vision regarding the future of Rafah crossing, which was closed for the majority of 2014.

Last week, four Egyptian police officers sustained injuries after roadside explosive devices hit two armored police vehicles in the city of el-Arish in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

The attacks came one day after unidentified armed men reportedly blew off a natural gas line near el-Arish, cutting off gas to 13,000 homes as well as a power plant in the area. Two cement factories in central Sinai, including one belonging to Egyptian armed forces, were also affected by the cut in gas supplies.

The Sinai Peninsula has witnessed bouts of violence since 2011, with armed militants, mainly affiliated with the group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, regularly attacking infrastructure and clashing with Egyptian armed forces.

The majority of the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November 2014, changing their name to Sinai Province. Attacks by the group have left several Egyptian military personnel dead and led Egyptian presidents to repeatedly declare a state of emergency in the Sinai.

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