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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sinai multinational force (MFO) attacked (updated - they deny it)

From Deutsche Welle:
Peacekeepers stationed in the Sinai Peninsula under the 1979 Egypt-Israeli peace accord have come under attack. Sinai has become increasingly militarized as Cairo seeks to root out suspected Islamist militants there.

Unidentified gunmen ambushed a camp of international peacekeepers in Sinai on Sunday, while security checkpoints near Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip also came under attack.

Security sources told the Reuters and AFP news agencies that the attack on the peacekeeper camp occurred in the central region of Sinai. No casualties have been reported.

"The attack happened in Um Shyhan area in the middle of Sinai but no one got injured," one anonymous source told Reuters.

The peacekeepers are part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) mission, an independent organization that is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Egypt-Israeli peace treaty.
I talked about the MFO being essentially invisible last week during the Sinai attacks on Egypt and Israel. They belatedly updated their website on Wednesday to say that they were safe and taking security precautions.

Debka says that American soldiers with the MFO returned fire.

The NYT mentioned the MFO yesterday before this incident:
Compounding American concerns, the officials added, is the presence of an international peacekeeping force in Sinai that includes about 700 American soldiers and is now led by David M. Satterfield, a retired ambassador. The force, which oversees compliance of the treaty, is not authorized to fight extremists and is not part of the discussions on expanded assistance, but its troops and civilians have encountered the lawlessness in the region, including the threat of kidnappings.

“We have Americans in the Sinai,” Mrs. Clinton told CNN last month after her visit to Cairo. “We’ve had a few concerns about their safety. So this is not only about Egypt and Israel, it’s also about the United States and other members of that multinational force. So it’s in everyone’s interest that we work together to make sure that security is in place in Sinai.”
UPDATE: The MFO denies the story.