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Egypt raises alert level in Sinai over jihadist fears

An Egyptian soldier guards a checkpoint at Rafah city, some 350 km (217 miles) northeast of Cairo August 9, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Gha
An Egyptian soldier guards a checkpoint at Rafah city, some 350 km (217 miles) northeast of Cairo August 9, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Gha

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Interior Ministry told police in the Sinai peninsula to raise a state of emergency after obtaining intelligence that jihadists might attack their forces there, state news agency MENA reported.

Officials have expressed growing worries about security in the desert region which borders Israel and is home to a number of tourist resorts.

"The Minister of Interior has raised the level of emergency in North and South Sinai after receiving information that jihadist groups intend to attack police buildings there," Interior Ministry official General Osama Ismail said, according to MENA.

In August last year Islamist militant gunmen killed at least 15 Egyptian policemen in an assault on a police station at the border between Egypt and Israel, before seizing two military vehicles and attempting to storm the border.

It was the deadliest incident in Egypt's tense Sinai border region in decades. Israel has accused Palestinian militants in Gaza of involvement in militant activity in Sinai, where insecurity has grown since Hosni Mubarak was toppled in Egypt's 2011 revolution.

President Mohamed Musri has pledged to get a grip on security in Egypt but struggled to assert control over an entrenched security establishment. Last week thousands of riot police and conscripts across the country went on strike over a variety of grievances.

(Reporting by Marwa Awad, Writing by Sylvia Westall, Editing by David Stamp)

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