Security remains elevated and the military on alert in the North Sinai governorate following an attack by unidentified gunmen against Egyptian military forces in Rafah on August 5. Local residents have also held a protest in Rafah's Sadat Square denouncing the cross-border raid. Media reports on August 6 have also stated that Cairo International Airport has been placed on alert following the August 5 incident. Additional security force personnel have been deployed and checkpoints established at the airport. It is unclear if there is a direct threat to the airport or if the measures are precautionary.
Unidentified militants infiltrated into Egypt's North Sinai governorate in Rafah from the Gaza Strip during the evening of August 5. The militants attacked Egyptian security force targets, killing at least 15 soldiers and stealing military equipment. Following the attack, the gunmen returned to the Gaza Strip and raided the Kerem Shalom crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The Israeli military successfully repelled the attack, killing six of the militants. The attack was later denounced by the Palestinian Hamas and Fatah organisations and the Israeli government.
The Egyptian president, Mohammed Mursi, has promised to avenge the attack. While there have been numerous low-level clashes between suspected Islamist militants and the Egyptian security forces in recent months, the August 5 attack is the most significant in terms of security force fatalities. The pressure on the Egyptian government to be seen to be responding to the incident will be elevated. The military and police are, therefore, expected to remain on alert and may also deploy additional forces and conduct raids against suspected militant positions in North Sinai in the short-term. These raids could, in turn, result in further skirmishes and, possibly, protests. Egyptian security force operations following terrorist attacks in the Sinai in the past have impacted negatively on local Bedouin communities. Should the Egyptian authorities conduct mass arrests of or be perceived as unfairly targeting locals, protests are possible. Protests by local residents denouncing the August 5 attack, akin to those held in Rafah on August 6, may also continue. The increased security measures in the North Sinai, which could include additional road checkpoints, may also be replicated in the South Sinai governorate.
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