JERUSALEM: Israel’s military said three of its soldiers and a gunman were killed near the border with Egypt on Saturday, and a military spokesperson said a group had infiltrated the frontier leading to a firefight.
The Israeli military said two soldiers were shot and killed near the border early on Saturday. It said the gunman and a third Israeli soldier were killed in a confrontation inside Israeli territory hours later.
In a later statement, the Israeli military said the gunman who killed all three soldiers was an Egyptian policeman. It said it was investigating the incident in full cooperation with the Egyptian army and soldiers were conducting searches in the area to rule out additional assailants.
The Egytpian miliatry confirmed that the Egyptian security personnel was killed during the exchange of gunfire. But said a group of armed men, possibly smugglers, had shot at an Israeli security cordon leading to an exchange of fire.
Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement in 1979 and maintain close security ties. Fighting along their shared border is rare.
The exchange of fire reportedly took place around the Nitzana border crossing between Israel and Egypt. The crossing is located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the point where Israel’s border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip converge. It’s used to import goods from Egypt destined for Israel or the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Israel built a fence along the porous border a decade ago to halt the entry of African migrants and Islamic militants who are active in Egypt’s Sinai desert.
(with Reuters and AP)