The source added that five of those arrested were members of Hamas, three were Sinai residents, and three were foreign nationals, adding that the arrests were made near the Rafah area four days ago. He said the operation was kept secret by the army and police for security reasons. He added that security forces waited for the conclusion of interrogations and until intelligence work—in following other leads which may be linked to the incident–was completed.
The source added that reports of the arrests of the perpetrators of the incident became subject of rumors in the area, especially among powerful families. He also added that these rumors included reports that the Egyptian army had attacked a base run by extremist Palestinians, where Palestinian and Egyptian elements, as well as other nationalities, were trained to carry out terrorist attacks in Sinai and other Egyptian areas.
Commenting on the situation in Al-Arish, the source said the city had started to get back to relative normality, especially with residents’ rising confidence in the security forces’ ability to deter terrorists, following the arrests of many of them recently.
Reports in Cairo yesterday said security forces in northern Sinai arrested 15 men suspected of involvement in the murder of the soldiers in the “Rafah II massacre,” despite denials by a senior official of the arrest of all perpetrators of the murder, and who said investigations were ongoing.
In a related incident, an explosive device exploded near a police station in Sheikh Zuwaid town on Tuesday, without causing damage or casualties. Reports said the market area of the town witnessed heavy clashes between armed men and security forces. The market is held every Tuesday and attracts large numbers of people. Witnesses said the entrances to the market area were closed by security, and there were reports of casualties.
An eyewitness told Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone that the town’s police station and other official buildings had been hit by rockets.
He added that one of the assailants attempted to escape by kidnapping a child, but that a member of the security forces shot him in the head, saving the child. A security building in Rafah also came under attack by armed insurgents causing injuries among the attackers when police confronted them.