(Egyptian army soldiers seen in a watchtower on the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip, July 2013. Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — Egyptian authorities on Tuesday ordered residents living along the country’s eastern border with the Gaza Strip to evacuate so they can demolish their homes and set up a buffer zone to stop weapons and militant trafficking between Egypt and the Palestinian territory, officials said.
The measure comes four days after Islamist fighters attacked an army post, killing at least 31 soldiers in the restive area in the northeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula. After the attack, Egypt declared a state of emergency and dawn-to-dusk curfew there. Authorities also indefinitely closed the Gaza crossing, the only non-Israeli passage for the crowded strip with the world.
The buffer zone, which will include water-filled trenches to thwart tunnel diggers, will be 500 meters (yards) wide and extended along the 13 kilometer (9 mile) border…