EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — A sniper shot and killed an Egyptian soldier standing guard on a rooftop on Saturday in the northern Sinai Peninsula, where the government faces an insurgency by Islamic hard-liners, security officials said.
Also Saturday, the head of Egypt's railways said train service has partially resumed after 45 days of stoppage following concerns of attacks on the tracks during the turmoil that gripped the country after the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi.
Partial service resumed between the coastal city of Alexandria, a Nile Delta city and three major towns in the south, Hussein Zakaria said. State news agency MENA reported that service linking the capital to the rest of the country was not running.
Disruption of trains has denied hundreds of thousands of Egyptians cheap daily transportation, leaving many trapped in the capital with no access to their hometowns as prices of alternative private transport surge.
A railroad official in the city of Qena said only 4 out of 40 trains that served part of the south were operating Saturday, offering low-fare services. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Provincial trains linking Cairo with the rest of the country were stopped in mid-August after security forces violently broke up pro-Morsi sit-ins, leaving hundreds dead and unleashing a violent backlash that saw protesters and suspected Morsi supporters attacking police stations, government buildings and churches in a string of provincial towns and cities.
Earlier this month, bomb disposal experts defused thee mortar rounds found tied to railway tracks linking the Suez Canal cities of Suez and Ismailiya.
Although there was some violence in Cairo, attacks against police and military forces have mainly been in the northern Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel. Attacks there surged after the military removed Morsi from office on July 3 following mass protests, prompting an extensive security operation to hunt down militants.
On Saturday, security officials said the soldier killed was shot by an unknown gunman while he was on guard duty on a government building overlooking the local police station in the town of Sheik Zuweyid.
The unrest in northern Sinai has caused the government to postpone the start of the academic year in the governorate for two weeks now, but local authorities say schools should likely begin next week.
Also on Saturday, Egypt reopened its border crossing with Gaza to passengers, a border official said. The crossing has been mostly shut since mid-August, following a suicide attack against a security building and a militant ambush that left two dozen policemen dead.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Protests by Morsi supporters have waned in recent weeks. Hundreds of his supporters have been arrested, mostly on charges of inciting violence. The government has slapped a nighttime curfew on nearly a dozen cities, and implemented emergency law for three months, giving security forces wider powers.
Associated Press Mariam Rizk and Mamdouh Thabet contributed to this report from Cairo, and Assiut, Egypt.
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