Seven Egyptian security men kidnapped by Islamist militants in Sinai last week were freed on Wednesday and President Mohamed Mursi vowed to pursue a crackdown on lawlessness in the desert peninsula.
The abduction underlined the threat posed by jihadists who have exploited a security vacuum that opened up in the isolated Sinai after the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The state has struggled to restore order there since.
The militants have launched attacks on Israel and targets in North Sinai, where security problems have been exacerbated by a flow of weaponry smuggled from Libya. An Israeli defense official, speaking after the release of the seven, said it was vital that Egypt succeed in crushing terrorism.