Two residents from the North Sinai city of Al-Arish who were recently kidnapped by anonymous militants were killed on Thursday in front of pedestrians in a public square, residents in Al-Arish city told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity.
The two kidnapped residents were among four residents from Al-Arish who were kidnapped last week. They were shot by militants who are believed to be members of the Islamic State-affiliated group “Sinai Province”.
“On Thursday evening in El Faleh public square in Al-Arish, where pedestrians often frequent, militants who are believed to be members of ‘Sinai Province’ drove in with a vehicle and the two kidnapped residents. They pulled the residents, who were blindfolded, out of the vehicle and shot them,” one of Al-Arish residents said on condition of anonymity.
The kidnapping of civilians from Al-Arish city hit a new high last week with an unprecedented number of kidnappings having occurred. Four citizens were kidnapped from the city’s streets despite the intensive presence of security, including both army and police forces.
“The two who were killed were kidnapped from inside or near their residences. The first was kidnapped on Sunday evening and his name is Hamdy El-Abed El-Obaidat. He is from the El-Fawkharia tribe and is a teacher in Emad El-Din school in Al-Arish. He was taken when a number of masked men broke into his residence. This happened in front of his wife and children,” one of the residents clarified previously to Daily News Egypt.
The second, Hossam Salah El-Solmeya, was killed was kidnapped on Monday evening, according to residents. He was reportedly taken by anonymous militants near his residence on Assiut street in Al-Arish.
“Sinai Province” has not released any media statement regarding the killing of the two aforementioned citizens; however, several IS-affiliated Twitter users praised the operation and asserted that “Sinai Province” was responsible.
The militant group has been targeting civilians who are allegedly known to be supporters of the ongoing operations against the militant group by the armed forces. The group is reportedly forcing North Sinai citizens to declare their affiliation to the terrorist organisation.
A number of North Sinai residents told Daily News Egypt previously that civilians desperately need security protection as they are threatened by militants on a daily basis.
“Sinai Province” kidnaps those it suspects of being “army operators” through investigations conducted by the group. Once kidnapped, militants kill the civilians following harsh interrogations, either by shooting or slaughtering them. The bodies are often left in public squares. In the rare case that a person is proved to not be an “operator”, they may be released, according to previous testimonies from residents.
Since 2013, state security forces represented in both the army and police have been engaged in violent clashes with “Sinai Province”, known previously as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. In 2014, the group declared its affiliation to IS and has launched deadly attacks on army and police checkpoints.
Over the course of the last two years, the Egyptian Armed Forces have launched counterattacks against militant stationing points across the Sinai Peninsula where the group is based, particularly in the cities of Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, and Al-Arish in North Sinai.
Despite numerous statements issued by the armed forces on mass killings of militants, the group still represents a “chronic headache” to the current regime.