15 mil­i­tants, 12 sol­diers killed in Sinai IS at­tack

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

ISMAILIA, Egypt: Mil­i­tants killed 12 mem­bers of Egypt’s mil­i­tary in North Sinai prov­ince and wounded six more in an at­tack on a check­point yes­ter­day, the mil­i­tary said, adding that it killed 15 mil­i­tants in re­turn. Is­lamic State claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the in­ci­dent, which took place 40 km from the town of Bir al-Abd, mak­ing it the first ma­jor at­tack in the cen­tral Sinai area, which had so far es­caped the mil­i­tants’ cam­paign.

It was car­ried out us­ing as­sault ri­fles and some heav­ier weapons, med­i­cal and se­cu­rity sources said. The wounded were taken to hospi­tal in Al-Arish. “An armed group of ter­ror­ist el­e­ments at­tacked a se­cu­rity check­point in North Sinai this morn­ing us­ing four-wheel drives and were im­me­di­ately en­gaged. Our forces killed 15 ter­ror­ists,” the mil­i­tary said in a state­ment. “The clashes led to the mar­tyr­dom of 12 and in­jury of six armed forces he­roes.” Is­lamic State said it killed more than 20 sol­diers and that it suf­fered no ca­su­al­ties. It said its mem­bers looted weapons and am­mu­ni­tion from the check­point.

Pres­i­dent Ab­del-Fat­tah Al-Sisi said in a brief state­ment later yes­ter­day that the lat­est at­tack would only strengthen Egypt’s re­solve to con­tinue the “bat­tle for build­ing and sur­vival”. The at­tack was the lat­est in what ap­pears to be a surge in the num­ber of op­er­a­tions launched by the mil­i­tants as well as a wave of IS kid­nap­pings and sub­se­quent killings of Sinai’s lo­cal res­i­dents sus­pected of col­lab­o­rat­ing with se­cu­rity forces bat­tling the mil­i­tants.

Egypt has bat­tled mil­i­tants in Sinai for years, but the in­sur­gency in the rugged and thinly pop­u­lated penin­sula gained pace in mid-2013. The mil­i­tant group stag­ing the in­sur­gency pledged al­le­giance to Is­lamic State in 2014 and adopted the name Sinai Prov­ince. It is blamed for the killing of hun­dreds of sol­diers and po­lice­men, and has started to tar­get Western tar­gets within Egypt. How­ever, there has been a dra­matic fall in re­cent months in the num­ber of at­tacks on main­land Egypt that have been claimed by the IS. A pre­vi­ously un­heard of group, “Hasm”, or “De­ci­sive­ness”, seems to have taken the lead in those at­tacks. It claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tempted as­sas­si­na­tion in re­cent weeks in Cairo of a top prose­cu­tor and a for­mer mufti, or chief the­olo­gian.

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