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(Jerusalem) – Attacks by unidentified gunmen that killed at least six Israeli civilians and wounded dozens more in southern Israel on August 18, 2011, were an egregious assault on the right to life, Human Rights Watch said today.

“Attacking civilians with firearms, bombs, and rockets shows an abominable disregard for human life,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

Media in Israel reported that at around noon, three men opened fire at an Egged company passenger bus about 20 kilometers north of the city of Eilat. The attackers apparently planted explosive devices at the scene, which reportedly detonated when Israeli security forces arrived soon afterward. Other gunmen targeted two other private civilian vehicles some time after 1:10 p.m., striking one car with a rocket that killed the six passengers, the newspaper Haaretz reported.

Israeli officials said the assailants crossed the northern Sinai border between Egypt and Israel to carry out the attacks, but Egyptian officials denied that the attacks originated from Egyptian territory. Israeli security forces reportedly killed some of the attackers. No armed group took responsibility for the attacks.

The Egyptian government recently increased its military presence in the Sinai Peninsula, where it is reportedly carrying out an operation against armed groups.

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