x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Egyptian police continue to block Israel border crossing

Dozens of police expand protest by blocking Al Awja border crossing 40 kilometres south of Rafah, used by vehicles that carry goods between the two countries.

CAIRO // Egyptian police blocked a commercial border crossing with Israel yesterday, security sources said.

The police were enraged by the kidnapping of seven of their colleagues by gunmen in the Sinai Peninsula. They have been blocking another border post, the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip, since Friday to press the government to help free the seven.

Dozens of police expanded the protest yesterday by blocking Al Awja border crossing 40 kilometres south of Rafah, used by vehicles that carry goods between the two countries, the two sources said.

"Traffic has totally stopped," one said.

Gunmen demanding the release of jailed Islamic militants seized the policemen and soldiers on the road between the Sinai towns of El Arish and Rafah on Thursday.

Hardline Islamist groups in North Sinai have exploited the collapse of state authority after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 to launch attacks across the border into Israel and on Egyptian targets.

A presidential spokesman, Omar Amer, told Egyptian state television no talks were taking place with the kidnappers and that it would be unacceptable to negotiate with criminals.