CAIRO (AP) — Gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked a border guard post Saturday in Egypt's western desert in a brazen assault that killed 21 troops deployed in the province along the border with neighboring Libya.
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called it a "terrorist attack" on soldiers defending the country's borders that will "not go unanswered.
"Terrorism will be uprooted from every part of Egypt," a statement from the presidency said. It declared a three-day mourning period.
The attack was the second in as many months on the same post, where a border guards company is based. Coming just over a month after el-Sissi took office, the attack is the worst single loss for military troops in recent history.
It is also the second brazen attack on troops in recent years during the holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast from dawn to sundown. In the 2012, gunmen attacked a checkpoint near Egypt's border with Gaza and Israel, killing 16 soldiers.
The attack Saturday came less than an hour before sundown.
El-Sissi, the former military chief, had vowed to fight terrorism, saying militant groups acting across borders were a threat not only to Egypt, but the region and the world.
Military and security forces have come under attack by militants in Egypt during the last three years of turmoil, with attacks increasing since el-Sissi removed his predecessor Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from office following mass protests against him. In the single worst attack on security forces, 25 members of the riot police were executed just over month after Morsi was ousted.
The Saturday attack targeted a military border checkpoint in Egypt's largest province, the western desert governorate of Wadi el-Gedid, that runs along the border with Libya to the west and Sudan to the south.
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