Egypt pulls more tanks back from Sinai
Further Egyptian Army tanks were withdrawn Monday from the Sinai peninsula, witnesses said, six days after the first reports of withdrawals, dpa reported.
Residents in central Sinai told dpa that the tanks were being transported away from the areas near the Israeli border where the Egyptian army has been carrying out a campaign - codenamed Operation Nisr (Eagle) - against Islamist militant groups.
A security official, who asked not to be named, said that they would be replaced by lighter armoured vehicles as part of a planned redeployment.
Israel has reportedly expressed concern over the heightened military presence near its border whilst Egypt was responding to an attack by suspected Islamist gunmen that killed 16 security personnel at an army checkpoint early last month.
Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali insisted on Saturday that the military campaign against the militants was continuing.
But observers have suggested that the focus is increasingly on mediation efforts by a delegation of Salafist sheikhs sent to the region by President Mohammed Morsi.
Over the past year, Islamist militants are believed to have been responsible for several attacks on a Sinai pipeline that exports gas to Israel, as well as raids on police stations in the mountainous desert peninsula.