June 18, 2013
Mursi sacks intelligence chief, Egypt hits militants
President Mohamed Mursi sacked the intelligence chief and Egyptian aircraft hit targets on the border with Israel in the biggest assault in the area in nearly 40 years after a deadly attack by militants on Egyptian border police.
It was unclear how far Mursi - who must accommodate the powerful army at home and reassure Israel that, as Egypt's first Islamist president, he will maintain stable relations - had expanded his authority in response to Sunday's attack.
But in a major shake-up, he sacked intelligence chief Mourad Mwafi and announced other changes in security appointments.
He has also promised to restore calm to the Sinai region after militants killed 16 Egyptian guards on Sunday and then stormed through the border before being killed by Israeli fire. It was the bloodiest attack on security forces in Sinai since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979.
Israel, which has been urging Egypt to deal with a growing threat on its southern flank, voiced approval of the security sweep.
Islamist militants opposed to the existence of Israel have stepped up attacks on security forces on the border since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak last year.
Many live among Bedouin tribes angry about being neglected by Cairo; they are often Bedouin themselves but follow a stricter interpretation of Islam, while also eschewing the political Islam espoused by Mursi in favour of militant tactics.
Early on Wednesday, Egyptian aircraft struck at targets near the border with Israel and troops raided villages, army officials and witnesses said, in the biggest military assault in the area since their 1973 war.
Egypt's military leadership said ground and air forces had begun to restore stability in Sinai.
"The forces were able to execute the plan successfully. The forces will continue the plan and calls on tribes and families of Sinai to cooperate in the restoration of security," it said.