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Peacekeepers attacked in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, foreigners injured

In an assault that appeared to take advantage of general anti-foreign sentiment in Egypt, Islamist militants on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula attacked a foreign mission assigned to observing the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

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Armed men attacked foreign peacekeepers operating in Egypt's North Sinai today, in what appears to be an opportunistic attack by Islamist militants inspired by the anti-American protests that have swept the Muslim world in the past few days. 

The attackers threw hand grenades, fired rocket-propelled grenades, briefly entered the peacekeepers camp, and raised a black Islamist flag, according to a former Egyptian state security officer who spoke with several officers on the base. The former Egyptian officer asked not to be identified by name.

At least five officers were wounded in the attack including two Egyptian military officers, two Colombians, and a British fire chief, according to his account,

The attack was on a Multinational Force and Observers base. The multinational force, which includes Americans, was deployed as part of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The northern base of the multinational force is near to the border with Gaza, in Al Gorah, near the city of Al Arish.

The base has been targeted several times in the past year, as a security vacuum in the Sinai has allowed Islamic militant groups to thrive. In April, a group of militants surrounded and blocked off the base, demanding the release of five people jailed for bombing Sinai tourist resorts in 2004 and 2005. They ended their siege when police released the men. In August, militants attacked an Egyptian military checkpoint not far from there, killing 16 soldiers.

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