Islamic Militants Carried Out Attacks on 15 Egyptian Military Positions
July 1, 2015
JERUSALEM—In their most brazen attack yet, Islamic militants in northern Sinai carried out simultaneous attacks Wednesday against 15 Egyptian military positions, killing 64 soldiers and police officers, according to an Egyptian newspaper. Reuters quoted Egyptian military sources as saying that more than 100 attackers were killed, but there has been no confirmation of this figure.
The operation came two years after Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi was ousted as Egypt’s president by the army. In another blow to the Egyptian government, a car bomb in Cairo on Tuesday killed Egypt’s state prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, who has presided over the mass arrest of Brotherhood leaders. These attacks were carried out during the holy month of Ramadan which Islamic militants in several countries are marking with attacks on perceived enemies.
The Sinai militants, mostly Bedouin, affiliated themselves with the Islamic State in the past year but they had been attacking government targets in Sinai a year before that when Morsi was overthrown. Some 500 Egyptian soldiers have been killed in Sinai in this period. Security forces have thus far been unable to make significant headway against the jihadists, who pull back into mountain lairs after their strikes. They have also carried out several rocket attacks against Israel.
Wednesday’s attack against Egyptian security personnel, the largest the militants have staged, involved car bombs and heavy machine guns. Details are still sparse, but the attackers are reported to have staged simultaneous raids on checkpoints, police stations, an officers’ club, and other targets east of the coastal town of El Arish. Gunfire could be heard across the border in Israel, which shut down two of its crossing points into the adjacent Gaza Strip.
Israeli farmers were told to keep their distance from the border fence. A number of Egyptian soldiers were reported to have been taken prisoner.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former chief-of-staff who led the coup against Morsi and who was elected last year to succeed him, said Egyptian forces will now take off their gloves against the militants. “The judiciary is restricted by laws, and swift justice is also restricted by laws,” he said. “We will not wait for that.” More