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Israeli soldier, 3 gunmen killed on Egypt border

Sept. 21, 2012 2:28 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 22, 2012 9:01 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops killed three militants along the Israel-Egypt border on Friday, and an Israeli soldier also died in the exchange of fire, the army said.

A group of militants entered Israel through a gap in fence construction halfway down the border and opened fire on Israeli soldiers, an army spokesman said. A nearby patrol returned fire, killing three people, he said.

Security sources said earlier that at least two soldiers were wounded.

The identities and nationalities of the militants have not been confirmed, the military spokesman said. An explosive belt was found on one of the casualties, an army statement said.

An Egyptian security source said one of the gunmen died when a bomb he was carrying detonated and the other two were killed in a gunbattle with Israeli forces, adding that the nationalities of the gunmen were not immediately clear.

Egyptian security forces took control of the area and deployed soldiers, a Ma'an correspondent said. They asked Israeli forces there to refrain from firing toward Egyptian territory.

Meanwhile an Egyptian army delegation met with Israeli forces near the border to check the bodies of those who were killed, and asked Israel to hand them over.

"The Egyptian authorities received an urgent notice from the Israeli side" before the militants were killed, the reporter explained.

He added that security forces in the northern Sinai say they received information about an impending attack.

On Aug. 5 militants attacked and killed 16 Egyptian border guards at a post on Sinai's border with Israel.

In June, Israeli troops shot dead two militants who fired on a border crew, and in July killed another man trying to infiltrate the Sinai border.

The open desert border between Israel and Egypt was relatively quiet for three decades after the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979. But Israel says that since the fall of Mubarak, Cairo has lost its grip on the Sinai.

Israel has been building a fence along the 260 km-long frontier with Egypt's Sinai desert and it is due to be completed by the end of 2012.

Reuters contributed to this report
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