Egypt: 70 troops killed in militant attacks in Sinai

2nd Jul 2015
Egypt: 70 troops killed in militant attacks in Sinai

[A picture taken from Gaza part of Rafah shows smke rising as Egyptian troops and militants in Rafah in North Sinai and Egypt’s eastern border with the Gaza strip on July 1, 2015. Photographer: Abed Rahim Khatib]

 

By Mohamed Sabry Emam Muhammed
CAIRO (AA): At least 70 Egyptian soldiers were killed Wednesday morning in a wave of militant attacks, including at least one suicide bombing, in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

Militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) attacked at least 10 security checkpoints and a police station in Egypt’s North Sinai province.

“The death toll of army and police forces rose to 70,” a military source told the private Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper.

A group affiliated with Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The Welayet Sinai (Province of Sinai) group said via Twitter that its militants had attacked more than 15 security checkpoints in North Sinai.

The group claimed that it seized control of several sites and laid siege to a police station in North Sinai’s Sheikh Zuweid city.

Some media reports suggested that militants took a number of soldiers hostage following the attacks, but a security source, speaking to Anadolu Agency, could not confirm these reports.

Active in the northern Sinai Peninsula and formerly known as “Ansar Beit al-Maqdis,” Welayet Sinai acquired its name after swearing allegiance to Daesh, which last year overran vast swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria.

The group has since claimed responsibility for several attacks against Egyptian police and army personnel in the restive peninsula.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, meanwhile, said that his government will refer new laws aimed at fighting terrorism to the president for ratification.

“Egypt is in a state of war,” he said following a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The attacks came two days after a deadly car bombing killed Egypt’s prosecutor general Hisham Barakat in eastern Cairo.

On Tuesday, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi vowed to toughen laws with a view to achieving “swifter justice.”

Egypt has been dogged by instability since Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was overthrown in a military coup on July 3, 2013.

Since Morsi’s ouster, Egyptian authorities have carried out a relentless crackdown on dissent that has mainly targeted the ousted president’s supporters, leaving hundreds dead and thousands behind bars.

Scores of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members, including Morsi, have been sentenced to death.

 

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