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Egyptian Police Kidnapping Triggers Renewed Tensions Between Security Forces and Hamas

Seven Egyptian security personnel were kidnapped in the Sinai Peninsula Thursday after their taxis were ambushed outside the northern Sinai city of el-Arish. Yesterday’s incident is just the latest in a series of kidnappings and attacks in the increasingly anarchic territory.

The abduction in the Sinai is the latest incident to highlight the rise of Islamist militant groups there. Along with Bedouin tribal gangs involved in smuggling and other criminal activity, they have taken advantage of the security vacuum there to step up attacks on police stations, security convoys and other targets.

In August 2012, 16 Egyptian security officers were killed and two vehicles stolen by jihadists in the region, an attack that Egypt’s army has attributed to Hamas, which vehemently denies the claim. Egyptian security forces blame the Palestinian group Hamas for facilitating jihadi activity in the Sinai, and the two sides are locked in an all-but-open media war that has seen Egyptian security forces link the Iran-backed terror organization to violence stretching back to the 2011 Arab Spring.

Egyptian policemen blocked the crossing into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in reaction to the latest kidnapping.

[Photo: CCTVAFRICALIVE / Youtube]