Unconfirmed reports of at least four peacekeepers hurt when scores of Salafi Bedouin linked to al Qaeda stormed the Multinational Force’s camp in northern Sinai with grenades, mortars and automatic guns Friday night Sept. 14. The casualties were transferred to the Israeli hospital in Beersheba. The number of casualties and their nationality has not been confirmed. DEBKAfile’s military and Egyptian sources report that the gunmen drove up to the camp in 50 Toyota pickups, first blocking the roads to the Al Ghora base southwest of El Arish, then knocking over two guard posts. They faced heavy resistance from the international force before torching the facility, plundering its arms and ordnance stores and hoisting the black al Qaeda flag. A second band of 60-70 gunmen then arrived and the firefight continued although an Egyptian force arrived on the scene with 14 armed personnel carriers.
This was the second al-Qaeda-instigated assault on a primarily US target in the Middle East in four days after the murder of four US diplomats including Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi, Libya Tuesday.
The 1,500 troops from the United States and other countries have been posted in Sinai to monitor the 1979 peace accords between Egypt and Israel.
The armed Bedouin gangs claimed their attack on the MFO camp was part of the Islamist protest sweeping the Middle East against an anti-Muslim video.