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Egypt army closes Gaza border

July 5, 2013 12:36 P.M. (Updated: July 6, 2013 9:14 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Egyptian army on Friday closed the Rafah crossing on the Gaza border until further notice due to unrest in Sinai.

Egyptian military officials informed the Palestinian side of the closure, said Maher Abu Sabha, Palestinian director of crossings and borders.

Due to Israel's blockade, the Rafah crossing is the only exit for most Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian director of the Rafah terminal, Sami al-Mitwali, said the crossing was closed due to security unrest.

An Egyptian soldier was killed early Friday in coordinated rocket and machinegun attacks by Islamist militants on army checkpoints and a police base in Sinai.

Militants also attacked a military intelligence building in Rafah, witnesses said.

Two other soldiers were wounded when Islamist militants fired on an army checkpoint near the north Sinai village of al-Gura. Elsewhere, militants attacked a police base with rockets, security sources said.

Some militants in Sinai had threatened a violent response after Egypt's army toppled Islamist President Mohammad Mursi on Wednesday.

Chief justice Adly Mansour, 67, was sworn in as interim president on Thursday until new elections, at a ceremony broadcast live from the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The Islamists accuse the military of conducting a brazen coup against Mursi, Egypt's first democratically elected but controversial president, following massive protests calling for the Islamist's ouster.

Mursi's Musim Brotherhood movement has called for peaceful protests on Friday against the "coup," as police continue to hunt its leaders.

Egypt's military appealed for conciliation and warned against revenge attacks, as police rounded up senior Islamists.

The military said "exceptional and autocratic measures against any political group" should be avoided in a statement on its spokesman's Facebook page.

"The armed forces believe that the forgiving nature and manners of the Egyptian people, and the eternal values of Islam, do not allow us to turn to revenge and gloating," the army statement added.

Police arrested the Brotherhood's supreme leader Mohammed Badie "for inciting the killing of protesters", a security official told AFP.

Former supreme guide Mahdi Akef was also arrested, state television reported.

Mursi himself was "preventively detained" by the military, a senior officer had told AFP early Thursday, hours after his overthrow the night before, suggesting the ousted president might face trial.

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