Cairo: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi fired his intelligence chief and the governor of Northern Sinai on Wednesday following the deadly weekend attack on troops by suspected militants in Sinai.
In a major shake-up, Morsi also asked Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi to replace the commander of the military police, a force that has been heavily used since the ouster 18 months ago of Hosni Mubarak. He also fired the commander of the presidential guards and named new chiefs for security in Cairo and the police's large central security, a large paramilitary force often deployed to deal with riots.
The changes followed the killing on Sunday of 16 soldiers at a post in Sinai along the border with Israel and the Gaza Strip. The attack raised questions about the readiness of Egyptian forces in the area, particularly after Israel warned the country several days earlier of an imminent attack.
An Egyptian soldier carries the body of Tarek Mohammed, one of 16 Egyptian soldiers who were killed on August 5, 2012.
The attackers killed the soldiers as they were breaking their daily fast for the holy month of Ramadan fast with a sunset meal. Their attackers commandeered an armored vehicle which they later used to storm across the border into Israel, where they were targeted by an Israeli airstrike.
The intelligence chief that Morsi fired, Murad Muwafi, was quoted in Wednesday's newspapers as saying his agency was aware of the Israeli warning but did not think that Muslims would attack Muslims while breaking their fast during Ramadan.
Large swathes of northern Sinai have plunged into lawlessness following Mubarak's ouster, with a massive flow of arms smuggled from Libya finding their way into the hands of disgruntled Bedouins. The lawlessness is coupled with the rise in the area of al Qaida-inspired militant groups that are waging a campaign of violence against Egyptian security forces. They have also staged several cross-border attacks on Israel.