Friday, January 30, 2015
At least 27 killed in four attacks in Sinai
Islamist militants in el-Arish (Photo Reuters)
At least 27 people, including civilians, were killed Thursday when a series of militant attacks, involving "car bombs" and mortar rounds, struck several army and police positions in Egypt's volatile Sinai Peninsula, medical and security sources said.
A series of tweets from the Sinai Province's Twitter account claimed responsibility for each of the four attacks that took place in North Sinai and Suez provinces, in some of the worst anti-state violence Egypt has seen in months.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis,Egypt's most active militant group, changed its name to Sinai Province last year after swearing allegiance to Islamic State, the hardline Sunni militant group that has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria
A source in the local ambulance services said that 105 have been injured in the attacks in the town of Al-Arish, in North Sinai, where the army is battling an Islamist insurgency that has spiked since the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Suspected militants fired mortar rounds and used "car bombs" in the consecutive attacks that targeted the headquarters of the North Sinai security directorate in the provincial capital of Al-Arish, a nearby army base, a hotel and several security checkpoints, state TV and the Ahram Arabic news website reported.
Walls of surrounding buildings were cracked and windows were smashed, as troops combed the area in search of suspects.
The office of Al-Ahram in Al-Arish, located near the targeted police building, was slightly damaged in the attack, office head Ahmed Selim said.
The building was vacant during the time of the attack due to a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in North Sinai late in October, following deadly militant attacks that killed 31 soldiers earlier in the month, the worst violence on Egyptian troops in recent times.
One army personnel was killed and another wounded in a separate attack on a security checkpoint in the North Sinai town of Rafah.
The military said in a statement that the violence came in response to the "successful" security campaign against militants in the restive province, without elaborating on the death or injury toll.
Egypt's army has struggled to crush the militant insurgency in the peninsula, which has at times expanded to mainland cities, including Cairo.
Militants have mainly targeted police and troops, killing hundreds in the past 18 months. Egypt's most active Jihadist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, based in Sinai, has claimed some of the deadliest attacks. The group in November pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, which has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq. Because of the violence the army has demolished hundreds of houses and removed residents in the North Sinai border city of Rafah to set up a buffer zone.