North Sinai bombing kills 18 security personnel


Wed, Sep 13, 2017 - Page 6

At least 18 Egyptian security personnel were killed in North Sinai Governorate when their convoy was ambushed by suspected Islamic State militants in one of the deadliest attacks on police in the restive area this year.

The force had been en route to the town of El-Arish when an explosives-laden vehicle tried to cut it off, the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior said in a statement.

The car blew up as the sides exchanged fire, the ministry added.

Five other members of the security detachment and four ambulance service personnel were wounded, state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported yesterday.

The emergency service workers were injured when the gunmen attempted to prevent them from responding to the scene.

News channel al-Jazeera reported that the Islamic State’s local affiliate claimed responsibility.

The attack illustrates how difficult it is for the government to crush a militant campaign that has withstood a four-year crackdown. While assaults by Islamic State loyalists in the Sinai Peninsula are not seen as threatening government stability, they have hurt vital parts of the economy.

The most devastating was the bombing of a Russian passenger airplane over the Sinai in November 2015 that killed all 224 people on board. Russia banned flights to Egypt in response.

The Sinai — a triangular piece of land bordering southern Israel and the Gaza Strip — has emerged as the main battleground in the face-off between Muslim militants and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

The violence surged after the ouster of then-Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi in 2013, which was followed by a crackdown on the main Muslim Brotherhood group that has killed hundreds and led to the jailing of thousands more.