World

Blast targets troops demolishing houses near Egypt-Gaza border

  • Egyptian army troops, background, are seen running a military operation to demolish houses on the Egyptian side of the border town of Rafah, as Palestinian Hamas security forces, front, stand guard the Palestinian side of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. With dynamite and bulldozers, Egypt's army demolished homes along its border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, after the military ordered residents out on Wednesday to make way for a planned buffer zone meant to stop militants and smugglers. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    Egyptian army troops, background, are seen running a military operation to demolish houses on the Egyptian side of the border town of Rafah, as Palestinian Hamas security forces, front, stand guard the Palestinian side of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. With dynamite and bulldozers, Egypt's army demolished homes along its border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, after the military ordered residents out on Wednesday to make way for a planned buffer zone meant to stop militants and smugglers. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)  (The Associated Press)

  • The Egyptian army demolish houses on the Egyptian side of the border town of Rafah, as Palestinians watch smoke rise from the Palestinian side of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. With dynamite and bulldozers, Egypt's army demolished homes along its border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, after the military ordered residents out on Wednesday to make way for a planned buffer zone meant to stop militants and smugglers. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    The Egyptian army demolish houses on the Egyptian side of the border town of Rafah, as Palestinians watch smoke rise from the Palestinian side of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. With dynamite and bulldozers, Egypt's army demolished homes along its border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, after the military ordered residents out on Wednesday to make way for a planned buffer zone meant to stop militants and smugglers. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)  (The Associated Press)

  • Egyptian army forces patrol amid debris of houses destroyed by the army in the Egyptian border town of Rafah, as seen from the Palestinian side of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. With dynamite and bulldozers, Egypt's army demolished dozens of homes along its border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, after the military ordered residents out to make way for a planned buffer zone meant to stop militants and smugglers. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

    Egyptian army forces patrol amid debris of houses destroyed by the army in the Egyptian border town of Rafah, as seen from the Palestinian side of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014. With dynamite and bulldozers, Egypt's army demolished dozens of homes along its border with the Gaza Strip on Thursday, after the military ordered residents out to make way for a planned buffer zone meant to stop militants and smugglers. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)  (The Associated Press)

Two military officials say an explosive device went off near Egyptian troops demolishing houses in a town on the border with the Gaza Strip where Egypt is clearing a buffer zone to halt weapons smuggling.

The strong blast on Monday in the border town of Rafah caused no casualties, the officials say, but prompted authorities to raise the security alert level.

Rafah and surrounding areas in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula have been under a state of emergency for more than a week since 31 troops were killed in a militant assault.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the region has emerged as a stronghold of Islamic militants, who have carried out scores of attacks in recent months mainly targeting soldiers and police.