Officials said Egyptian authorities accidentally fired at a Bedouin funeral in Sinai during a search for security personnel kidnapped by suspected militants, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
A security official said a senior military officer offered an apology to the family of the dead man.
Before the official’s statement, Egyptian TV reported an airstrike on Al-Berth village in Sinai, which had killed one militant. The TV report said three others were arrested and eight cars were confiscated.
The officials, however, said police and troops believed the funeral convoy of eight pickup trucks was carrying gunmen who refused orders to stop. The troops opened fire, and some among the mourners fired back before the funeral-goers fled. The officials said one dead body was left behind, and troops believed that they were the ones who killed him.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity given they are unauthorized to speak to the media.
Egyptian military previously said it won’t wage any military operation against the Islamist kidnappers until the presidency gives a “green light.”
Egypt exerting ‘intense efforts’
Egypt exerted “intense efforts” on Tuesday to secure the release the seven captured security personnel, the prime minister said, as witnesses spoke of increased military movements in the Sinai peninsula.
“There are intense efforts on all fronts for the return of the captured conscripts safely,” Hisham Qandil said in a statement carried on the official MENA news agency.
On Monday, the presidency said all options were on the table to secure the men’s release.
The seven were abducted at gunpoint on Thursday as they were returning from leave.
The presidency said it was not negotiating with the kidnappers, but did not rule out future talks.
Authorities sent police reinforcements to Sinai on Monday following a dawn attack on the Al-Ahrash police camp in northern Sinai, where assailants fired heavy weapons for 25 minutes, security officials said.
That was followed by another attack, on the Oja border crossing with Israel, which is also close to a police camp.
Attacks on police and soldiers in the sparsely populated peninsula have surged since an uprising overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, as have cross-border attacks on Israel.