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Egypt fires spy chief, security leaders in wake of Sinai attack

Murad Muwafi told to retire as President Mohamed Morsi shakes up security forces.

Murad muwafiEnlarge
Egyptian intelligence chief General Murad Muwafi leaves a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Cairo on February 23, 2012. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt’s intelligence chief, Murad Muwafi, was told to retire today by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, after a recent attack in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 16 border guards.

Morsi also fired the governor of Northern Sinai, the Associated Press reported, and is reorganizing Egypt’s Republican Guard, Agence France-Presse said.

In what the AP called "a major shake-up," Morsi also asked Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi to replace the commander of the military police. Mohammed Rafaat Abdel Wahad Shehata will lead General Intelligence on an interim basis, AFP reported.

Egypt’s presidential office didn’t say the deadly attack in the Sinai Peninsula led to the decisions, although they come days after the attack and the resulting military crackdown there.

Muwafi, the intelligence chief, admitted in a public statement earlier today that Egypt had prior knowledge about Sunday’s attack in Sinai.

More from GlobalPost: Egypt launches airstrikes against Sinai militants

However, he tried to deflect blame, saying his office passed along the intelligence to “relevant authorities,” AFP said.

Since Hosni Mubarak relinquished power last year, weapons and dissent are common in Sinai, the AP reported.

Arms travel through Libya to resentful Bedouins, while militants modeled after Al Qaeda have attacked Egyptian forces and Israeli targets across the border.

In a military response to the Sinai attacks, Egyptian helicopters fired missiles at the militants today. Leaders said they are trying to “restore stability and regain control,” the AP said, citing state TV. Troops also raided villages near the Israeli border, Reuters reported.

Egypt hasn’t launched a military offensive of this scale since the 1973 Sinai war with Israel, according to Reuters.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/120808/egypt-fires-spy-chief-military-leaders-wake-sinai-att