Egyptian militants claim rocket attack on Israel's Eilat

JERUSALEM Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:15am EST

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An al Qaeda-inspired group in Egypt claimed responsibility on Tuesday for a rocket attack on Israel's southern Eilat port, saying it would continue to target the Jewish state while battling the interim military government in Cairo.

There were no casualties or damage from Monday night's attack. Eilat residents reported hearing two explosions and a police spokesman said remains of a rocket were found in a desert area outside the Red Sea port on Tuesday.

Israel has occasionally come under cross-border strikes from the lawless Egyptian Sinai peninsula, though a new fortified fence along the frontier and Cairo's security crackdowns have kept the militants largely in check.

The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem) said it had carried out the rocket launch on Eilat and was undeterred by Egyptian security sweeps.

"Jews must understand that our war with the enemy inside will not make us forget the prime enemy of the (Muslim) nation, who occupies the land and defiles the sacred places," Ansar said in a statement. "Jews will see things they do not like."

Two Egyptian soldiers and three militants were killed in an army raid on an Ansar hideout in Sinai last month.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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