Army starts 2nd evacuation phase of Rafah buffer zone

CAIRO: The Egyptian army officially started Saturday phase two of the evacuation of homes in the buffer zone in the Rafah-Gaza border for an expanded distance of 500 meters, Youm7 reported, quoting security sources.

The 500-meter buffer zone, first announced in late October 2014 by the Egyptian army following a bomb attack that killed 31 soldiers, was expanded in November an additional 500 meters, widening the distance of the area to be evacuated in North Sinai to 1 kilometer.

The attack prompted the army to intensify its security campaigns in the area and impose a state emergency and curfew. The Sinai-based militant Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militant group, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Youm7 reported that evacuation effort has removed 837 homes and paid compensations of 420 EGP ($59) and 790 EGP to 595 residents in its first phase. Many tunnels connecting the area with Gaza were also discovered under the removed homes and destroyed by the forces in Sinai.

The second phase will remove 1,200 homes within 15 days, after the evacuation works are finalized by the end of this week.

A compensation of between 700 and 1200 EGP according to the type of houses will be received by the displaced residents from the second phase.

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