CAIRO: Egypt has postponed the opening of the Rafah border crossing after an Egyptian officer was abducted in North Sinai Sunday, the director of Gaza crossings Maher Abu Sabha wrote on Facebook Monday.
He said Egyptian authorities told him Sunday it would open the crossing from Tuesday to Thursday, but canceled the decision after Captain Ayman el-Desouki was abducted in a militant ambush in Rafah.
Abu Sabha expressed his regret over the ongoing closure of the crossing and the abduction of the officer, noting that “such acts” take place whenever an announcement on opening the crossing is made after a long closure. He added the abductors “do not act in the interests” of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.
A security source told Youm7 Monday that special forces supported by armored vehicles, tanks and Hummers are combing south Sheikh Zuwayed and west Rafah in search for Desouki.
Thus far in the campaign, 21 suspects have been arrested, a car that was used in alleged“terrorist operations” has been seized, and three shacks allegedly used to hide terrorists have been destroyed, according to Youm7.
Militants in North Sinai, who mostly belong to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM,) have recorded their operations killing security personnel in cold blood, but did not attempt to abduct officers before Sunday. ABM pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, and has since self-proclaimed itself as Wilayat Sinai (The State of Sinai.)
Witnesses to abduction of Rafah officer
Desouki and several other officers had been waiting in Rafah for about six days to head back to their homes in other governorates via sea, but the bad weather conditions did not improve, the General Coalition of Police Officers (GCPO) reported witnesses to the abduction saying Sunday on its Facbeook page.
“Wait for videos to be released by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, who call themselves Wilayat Sinai, to brag about this ‘successful’ operation, in their standards,” GCPO said, adding that the incident is a result of “leaders’ lack of awareness” and issuing instructions to travel on an unsecured road due to high sea waves.
Desouki, who graduated in 2005, works at the Ports Security that administers the Rafah border crossing.
GCPO called for holding responsible the head of the Authority of Ports Security and all police chiefs who decided that the officer move without security.
The officers traveled in two vehicles; a cab and a private car, and the militants had machineguns and a video camera, according to witnesses.
The Bedouin driver of the cab told them the passengers were employees at the Rafah border crossing, and were allowed to leave. The driver of the private car, which was boarded by three officers, produced a card that proves he was a customs employee. The second officer said he lost his ID and that he was a customs employee as well.
Desouki, on the other hand, produced his ID that said he was an officer. The private car was allowed to leave, and Desouki was abducted.