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Victims of strike in Sinai identified

Aug. 10, 2013 11:45 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 14, 2013 7:42 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egyptian military sources said Saturday that four of the five victims of an airstrike in Sinai a day earlier had been identified.

Senior military sources told Ma'an that one body was too badly burned to identify. They named the others as Ibrahim H. A, Mohmmad M. H. A, Saeed A amd Hussam A. D.

The victims were traveling in two cars and a motorcycle in al-Arja village, three kilometers from the Israeli border south of Rafah, when they were killed, the sources said.

On Friday evening, military sources told Ma'an the strikes appeared to have been carried out by an Israeli drone and that they hit a rocket-launching site.

But Egypt's military spokesman denied any Israeli strike.

"There is no truth whatsoever to any Israeli strikes inside Egyptian territory and the claims that there is Egyptian and Israeli coordination on the matter is utterly baseless," military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Aly said in a statement.

"The armed forces are combing the area of the explosions to find out the cause," Colonel Aly said.

Witnesses said Egyptian military helicopters hovered above the site after the blasts.

Israel's military on Thursday ordered the cancellation of all flights in and out of the Red Sea resort of Eilat, which borders Egypt, due to what is said was a security threat.

Last month, Israel deployed a battery of its Iron Dome missile defense system near Eilat, which has been a target of attacks in the past.

In April the town was struck by rocket fire from the Sinai, and debris from a rocket that hit northern Eilat on July 4 was found days later.

Egypt's army is currently engaged in an offensive in Sinai to curtail a surge in violence since Islamist president Mohamed Mursi was ousted on July 3 in a military-led coup.

The Egyptian military has coordinated the operation in Sinai with Israel, army officials said in July.

The 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt imposes strict controls on deployments in the desert peninsula.

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