Egypt opens border crossing to Gaza for first time after attack on troops killed 31 last month

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EL-ARISH, Egypt — Egyptian authorities temporarily re-opened a border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday to allow Palestinians stranded outside the territory to return home, officials said.

The crossing had been closed since Oct. 24, when a militant ambush killed 31 Egyptian soldiers near the border town of Rafah.

Since the October attack, Egypt declared a three-month state of emergency and a dusk-to-dawn curfew for much of northern Sinai. Soldiers also started demolishing houses along the border to create a security buffer zone and block cross-border smuggling tunnels.

Maher Abu Sabha, director of the crossing point on the Gaza side, said that the crossing would be open Wednesday and Thursday — but only to those entering Gaza. Sabha called on the Egyptian government to fully open the border to two-way traffic.

North Sinai has seen a spike in militant attacks against security forces, particularly after last year's military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. On Wednesday, gunmen killed a police officer and two conscripts in el-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, authorities said, without elaborating.

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