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Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Cairo, 5 Dec. (AKI) - Four members of a Palestinian terror cell have reportedly crossed the Rafah border from Gaza into Egypt where they are planning attacks against Israeli and foreign targets on the Sinai peninsula, pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat reports, quoting Israeli security forces. According to the sources, the men are the same ones who kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in Gaza in June, and they are linking up with some 70 alleged members of al-Qaeda who have been in Egypt for some months now.

The team is allegedly planning attacks in seaside locations, and the high risk period is considered mid December to mid January, during Jewish and Christian holidays.

This threat, the daily says, is the focus of talks between the head of Egyptian intelligence, Omar Suleiman, during his recent visit to Israel, when he met prime minister Ehud Olmert and the heads of the Israeli security services. Greater synergy between Israeli, Egyptian and foreign security forces in the Sinai is also believed to have been discussed.

An alarm about possible Sinai attacks was raised several days ago. Israeli tourists in the area were invited by the Israeli authorities to return immediately for security reasons.

There was a similar scare in September when Egyptian security forces were hunting four men suspected of organising a terror attack in the Sinai peninsula, according to local media.

The Israeli authorities warned its citizens holidaying on the peninsola, urging them to return home immediately because of the risks of attacks in Egypt. On Friday the Australian embassy cautioned ts citizens in Egypt to be wary.

The Egyptian police are coming the area around the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh and the villages in the south of Sinai. General Harun Hassan, in charge of security for the region, confirmed the police mobilisation, saying the area was still in a state of maximum alert.

The departure of large numbers of tourists, mainly Israelis, from hotels and resorts in the Sinai started two days ago, after the head of Israel's national anti-terrorism office, Danny Arditi, told a radio station that in the past two weeks there had been various alerts regarding tourist centres in the peninsula.

Terrorist attacks in area over the past two years have killed more than 125 people; firstly in the October 2004 bombing of the Hilton Hotel in Taba, then in July 2005 at Sharm el Sheikh, and most recently, in April 2006, at Dahab.

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