An explosion that struck an armoured vehicle on El-Gowra road in the North Sinai city of Sheikh Zuweid on Saturday morning killed an army lieutenant colonel along with two conscripts. Four other conscripts were also injured in the attack, army sources told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity.
The armoured vehicle was targeted by an improvised explosive device (IED) while it was driving through El-Gowra road south of Sheikh Zuweid. Following the attack, the deceased and injured personnel were transferred to Al-Arish Military hospital, sources explained.
Among the slain service members was a lieutenant colonel from the commandos forces (known as Al-Sa’aqa), Ramy Hassanein, who was the leader of the commandos battalion based in North Sinai. The names of the two additional conscripts killed in the attack and the names of the other four injured are unknown, according to army sources who preferred to remain anonymous.
Meanwhile, the army’s official media office told Daily News Egypt on Saturday that the office had not yet received any information on the aforementioned attack, so it is hard to verify its accuracy.
Contrary to the army’s statement, expert on political Islamist movements Ahmed Attia told Daily News Egypt that Saturday’s attack was conducted through the use of a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), rather than an IED. He noted that the attack is considered a prominent development in the ongoing clashes between the army and Islamic State (IS)-affiliated militant group ‘Sinai Province’.
“They launched the RPG missiles against the armoured vehicle after the army imposed a massive blockade during the ongoing military sweep operation. The army succeeded in seizing materials used to make IEDs,” he explained.
Consequently, Sinai Province decided to change its past war strategy which depended on targeting armoured vehicles through IEDs, replacing it with direct confrontations through RPGs, he added.
“Militant group ‘Sinai Province’ often uses IEDs to launch attacks on army and police checkpoints across the cities of North Sinai,” Attia clarified.
Since 2013, following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, “Sinai Province” has launched dozens of deadly attacks against army stationing points.
In 2014, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched a counter-insurgency campaign targeting militants in North Sinai, though the group still represents a “chronic headache” to the current regime.