By ASHRAF SWEILAM, Associated Press
EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — Egyptian authorities are investigating the death of a suspected militant near the country's border with Israel on Sunday, security officials said.
Ibrahim Madhan was killed while riding a motorcycle in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula some 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Israeli border. The security officials said scraps from a missile were found next to his body.
Officials said they are considering several scenarios, including the possibility of an Israeli missile strike. That would raise questions about whether it was coordinated with Egyptian authorities.
An Egyptian security and military team was at the site of the attack to collect evidence, the officials said.
Mohammed Oqail, who lives in the area, said he heard the buzzing sound of a plane hovering over the area an hour before he learned of the explosion.
A security official said another possible scenario was that the militant was killed by the explosion of a land mine, but the shallow depth of the crater did not suggest that.
An Israeli security official said Israel was not involved.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
Egypt has deployed troops and weaponry in an attempt to uproot militants from their strongholds near Egypt's borders with Gaza and Israel. The offensive intensified after an Aug. 5 attack by militants near the Egypt-Gaza-Israel border that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers.
Some of the militants commandeered Egyptian military vehicles and crashed through a border crossing into Israel, where they were killed by the Israeli military.
Madhan, who was killed Sunday, was briefly arrested in connection with that attack.
The Egyptian military deployment to Sinai was the first since Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Under the terms of the treaty, Egypt is allowed to have only lightly armed police in the zone along the border with Israel. The treaty stipulates that significant military moves by Egypt must be coordinated with Israel.
According to Egyptian security officials, Egypt's newly appointed Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak on Thursday to assure him that the deployment of more tanks was needed to fight terrorism and was temporary. The call came after Israeli officials grumbled they had not been consulted on the move, which the peace treaty stipulates must be coordinated.
Israel has long expressed concern with the rise of Islamic militants in Sinai, accusing them of several attacks, and has called on Egypt to bring them under control. Even before the Aug. 5 assault, Israel quietly agreed to allow several thousand Egyptian soldiers into Sinai to secure the peninsula, despite the limitations of the treaty.
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