Militants in northern Sinai.
Militants in northern Sinai. Photo by AFP
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Egyptian intelligence made a request to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, using senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar as an intermediary, to extradite members of  the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ paramilitary wing, according to an al-Quds newspaper report on Thursday.

A senior official informed the newspaper that the three militants provided indirect support to radical groups in Sinai, and are connected to weapons smuggling as well.

According to a security official in Ramallah, the three militants, Iman Nufal, Riyadh al-Atar, and Mohammed Sabu Shimleh, are connected to Hamas’s forces in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and have refused to turn themselves over to the Egyptians.

Al-Quds also reported that on Thursday morning, that the Israeli Mossad had transferred a list of names to Egyptian Intelligence that contained nine names of terrorists connected to the attack in Rafah. Armed attackers from Sinai breached Israel's border on Sunday night, in an armored personnel carrier that was stolen in a raid on an Egyptian police station, in which around 16 Egyptian policemen were killed.

Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, Deputy Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, said that the nine are connected to a group called "The Armies of Monotheism and Jihad in Palestine," and their names are held by Egyptian intelligence.

Abu Marzook claimed that Israeli forces killed two of the nine terrorists near the location of the attack. Ahmed Salaam, one of the nine, had attempted to escape into Gaza. Abu Marzook stressed that 9 militants took part in the attack, not 35, as the Egyptians claimed. Abu Marzook blamed the Mossad for the attack once again.

Meanwhile, Egyptian police fought gunmen in northern Sinai's main town of al-Arish on Thursday, state television reported, a day after security forces began a crackdown on Islamist militants in the region.

"Clashes resumed between armed men and police forces in front of police station number two in al-Arish," Nile News television reported, citing its correspondent there

It did not identify the gunmen. No further details were available and security officials could not immediately be reached for comment. A Reuters correspondent in al-Arish said the town was now calm after the reported clashes.

The army's security sweep follows an attack on border guards on Sunday by gunmen who then stormed through an Israeli border crossing. Israel said it was a "wake-up call" for Egypt to take a firmer grip on a region threatened by growing lawlessness.

Egyptian aircraft struck at suspected militant targets near the border and troops raided villages on Wednesday after Sunday's attack.

The Egyptian army was bringing in extra troops, tanks and other armored vehicles to al-Arish on Thursday to expand the security operation, a security source said.