A total of 34 security personnel, both from the army and the police, have been killed in separate militant attacks countrywide since 5 July, an escalation in the targeting of security officials in both the Sinai peninsula and the Delta, which was met by heavy retaliation.
The latest attack was a bombing that targeted on Saturday a police checkpoint in North Sinai’s city of Al-Arish, killing two police conscripts and injuring nine security personnel, according to the Ministry of Interior. The attack was directed against troops of the Central Security Forces passing by the area of Al-Safa, which witnessed an attack last week that claimed the lives of three police personnel.
On Friday, clashes between militants belonging to the extremist group of Sinai Province and army forces led to the killing of at least 25 military personnel, as two suicide bombers targeted an outpost in Southern Rafah. This was followed by exchange of fire, where 40 militants were killed, as reported by the spokesperson of the armed forces.
Also on Friday, in Qaliubiya, a National Security officer named Ibrahim Azazy was assassinated by members of the Hasm militant group.
Last week, on Wednesday, two army officers and one conscript were shot dead in an attack on a checkpoint South Giza.
In Sinai, following the deadly Rafah attack, the Egyptian army has intensified retaliation attacks in the areas, using infantry forces and air strikes. On Saturday, the military published a video showing air strikes on positions allegedly belonging to the militants. “For the second day, air forces have surrounded terrorist elements that escaped.”
Operations are still ongoing, the military said.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Interior announced that police forces killed 14 militants in the city of Ismailia. The deceased individuals were said to have been preparing for a military camp that hosts militants for training to use weapons and explosives, in order to execute operations in North Sinai.
The statement said that the security operations that targeted the camp took place after taking legal permission from the general prosecution. Out of the 14 individuals, only five were identified by the ministry.
Sinai Province has declared responsibility for Friday’s attack in an online statement, which was circulated by the group’s affiliates and supporting news outlets.
Previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, Sinai Province reportedly pledged alliance to the Islamic State (IS) group in 2014, to become the IS’s active branch in Egypt.
The Egyptian state accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of hosting and training militant groups, through personnel and financial support. The peak in targeting police and army personnel has taken place since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. The Egyptian government argues that such attacks are an attempt to return the now banned Muslim Brotherhood to power. However, the group denies its affiliation to any militant group.
Several of the local militant groups, such as Hasm and Liwa Al-Thawra, haven’t publicly announced their affiliation with the Brotherhood, but their rhetoric and usage of justifications of the attacks is very similar to that of the group, which calls for retribution. For example, in one of their videos, the militant groups used the picture of Mohamed Kamal to justify an attack. Kamal was the head of youth groups and allegedly the leader of militant teams in the Brotherhood. He was killed by security forces last year.