Witnesses from the Egyptian town of Rafah in Sinai said that a very strong explosion occurred Saturday evening in the Egyptian military facility belonging to the Egyptian border guards, which is still under construction. It is located behind the Rafah Central Hospital, where smoke and fire were seen while the explosion rocked Rafah.
A senior military Egyptian source said the explosion led to destroying part of the intelligence building in the Egyptian city of Rafah near Gaza, the MENA news agency reported. According to the same source, large numbers of security forces were deployed at the scene of the explosion, and the area has been sealed due to a search for possible explosives.
The source did not mention any details about possible victims, saying only that this incident will increase the determination of the army and the police to continue their war against terrorism.
Another source said that Egypt's Interior Ministry raised the alert level for its security forces in southern Sinai as authorities have opened an investigation to learn how these explosives reach this sensitive site.
It is worth mentioning that this incident comes just days after threat from Kamal Al-Hafni, a leader of the Jihadist movement in the Sinai peninsula, to kidnap officers of the police and the Egyptian army unless they released his brother Ahmad al-Hafni, who was detained earlier by security forces.
According to the report, al-Hafni phoned a police station in el-Arish and threatened to bomb administration headquarters in northern Sinai and kidnap security officers. He gave the police 72 hours, beginning from Thursday and ending Saturday, they said.
Separately, Reuters reported an explosion injured three people in Sinai, where Egypt is building a facility to help it protect the pipeline that ships natural gas to Israel and Jordan, security sources said.
However, security chaos and disorder has spread in Sinai since popular revolution that resulted in the ouster of former Egyptian last year, with Islamist militants stepping up attacks on security forces and the Israeli border. Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi has vowed to restore order.
Egyptian forces began four months ago their biggest security crackdown in decades after militants killed 16 border guards in the deadliest attack there since Egypt's 1973 war with Israel.
Last week, Egyptian sources reported that an American security delegation arrived in Egypt's Sinai to meet with officials about the security situation in the peninsula and to visit the southern and northern camps of UN peacekeeping forces stationed in Sharm el-Sheikh and el-Arish.
The UN peacekeeping force was set up in 1981 as part of the peace accord between Israel and Egypt. A total of 10 nations make up the force: the United States, Canada, Australia, Colombia, , France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand and Uruguay. Norway also provides the force with three officers, although it is not technically a member.
I thought that the security crackdown in Sinai, which started four months ago, would lead to some calm in Sinai. However, since the crackdown began, I find that every day the situation tends to worsen, and there is no tangible progress in terms of security. From here we can say that the crackdown has failed and the leadership of the Egyptian army may need to urgently request international assistance.
Placing explosives in a security center should not pass without serious investigations, as this indicates that the security in Sinai is weak or that there has been a breach among the security elements, especially if we take in consideration that Sinai has a tribal society. Therefore, I think that Cairo should re-evaluate the results which its crackdown has brought about, in particular, that the Egyptian army and security refrain from publishing any achievements, if there is any, for people to see.
I was expecting Morsi to be interested in Egypt's security and the army instead of having to worry about expanding his powers, which Egyptians still insist is unnecessary, at least in this particular time when Egypt suffers from many problems. Some of these problems are due to the Hosni Mubarak regime and many of them due to lack of experience in the recent Department of Internal Affairs.
I do not expect the visit of the Americans to be for the purpose of visiting only, but it seems that America is more concerned than Egypt regarding the security situation in Sinai, fearing of a new Sept. 11, which would be tactically different this time. I still believe that the international community should work hard to solve the security problem in Sinai and stay away from using the American tactic in Yemen, because this will drag the region into violence which is impossible to control.