Egypt: Egypt holds military funeral for Sinai soldiers
Tantawi (left) was joined by government officials and generals
Egypt's defence minister led mourners in a military funeral on Tuesday for 16 soldiers killed by Islamist militants near the border with Israel in the deadliest such attack in decades.
The minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, was joined by senior government officials and generals in a brief procession that followed the caskets, wrapped in the military flag, after prayers.
The funeral was aired live on state television.
"Every Egyptian feels this attack was directed against them. They all want vengeance, and there must be blood for blood," a presenter said during the broadcast.
In Sunday's attack, 35 gunmen in Bedouin clothing opened fire on an Egyptian border post, killing the 16, before crossing into the Jewish state in an armoured vehicle and an explosives-laden pickup truck, Egyptian officials said.
Israel initially said its troops killed five gunmen, with the armoured vehicle destroyed by helicopter fire.
The attack highlighted the government's tenuous grip on the Sinai Peninsula, from where Islamist militants have launched several rocket attacks on Israel and a deadly cross border raid last year.
The most recent attack presents a challenge to Egypt's new Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood has good relations with the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday, Morsi visited soldiers wounded in the attack and hospitalised in Cairo, the official MENA news agency reported. He did not attend the funeral.
After president Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February 2011, militants stepped up attacks in Sinai, prompting the military, then in charge of the country, to send reinforcements to the peninsula.
Egypt also closed until further notice its Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip, the territory's only access to the outside world that is not controlled by Israel.
The Israeli army said in a statement that the Kerem Shalom crossing, which lies on the border of Israel, Egypt and Gaza and where the gunmen breached the fence, had been reopened on Tuesday morning.
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