Egyptian Army stamps its authority on 'lawless' Sinai region

An Egyptian soldier stands guard at a checkpoint in Rafah city on the Egyptian border Photo: REUTERS/Stringer

The Egyptian Army has launched a major crackdown on Islamic extremists in the Sinai region close to the Israeli border, killing at least 20 suspected militants today.

It is the first time missiles have been fired in Sinai since the Yom Kippur war with Israel in the 1970s.

The border region between Israel and Egypt remains on high alert after gunmen killed 16 Egyptian border guards on Sunday.

ITV News' Middle East Correspondent John Ray reports from the Egypt-Israel border:

Sinai has gained a reputation as a lawless region, notorious for smuggling and human trafficking, since the former president Hosni Mubarak was deposed last year.

Egypt's newly-elected president, Mohamed Mursi, appointed a new national intelligence chief and sacked the governor of the north Sinai region today.

Israeli soldiers look towards Egypt as they guard the border at the Kerem Shalom crossing Credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen