On August 26th, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint in Egypt’s Norther Sinai.
The group’s Amaq News Agency reported that 15 soldiers were killed or wounded in a “infiltration operation.” Amaq said Islamic State militants targeted the Kilometer 17 checkpoint west of al-Arish, without giving any evidence or details on how many were involved. ISIS also did not disclose how many of its members were killed.
MENA, Egypt’s State news agency on August 25th announced that Security forces had foiled an attack on a checkpoint west of the city of al-Arish, killing four militants while the remaining attacks fled.
Initially, MENA did not mention any victims on the side of the security forces, however Haaretz cited the privately owned al-Masri al-Youm newspaper which reported that four policemen had died.
However, on August 26th, Security forces reported that four recruits had been killed and nine were wounded and taken to hospital. The report also said that the attackers were wearing explosive belts and had four RPGs. The militants’ bodies were being held and the devices on them were being used to identify them.
MENA cited an unnamed source who claimed that on August 25th police confronted the attackers. The security forces seized ten explosives at the scene, as well as four automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, three explosives belts, hand grenades, a camera and a mobile phone.
Since 2013 militant activity in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has skyrocketed, following the 2013 military coup which ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The insurgents did not support Mossi, nor did he support them. However, he did attempt to hold conciliatory discussions with both Bedouin leaders and armed groups while promising government support for North Sinai. The new military government, believing the two years under Morsi demonstrated weakness towards terrorism, launched an offensive characterized by mass arrests, mandatory curfews, and the destruction of homes along the border. The insurgents affiliated themselves with ISIS.
On February 9th, 2018, the Egyptian government launched a nationwide operation against militants. This is a result of an attack in which gunmen killed hundreds of worshippers at a mosque in Sinai in November 2017. President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi ordered the army and security forces to crush the militants. As cited by Haaretz, Egypt says that fighting Islamist militants is a priority to restore security to the country after years of turmoil following the Arab Spring protests in 2011.
In March, the Egyptian military claimed that its most recent campaign killed 105 “terrorists”, seized 157 “terrorist-affiliated vehicles,” and bulldozed 1,907 “terrorist shelters” after only one month.
Recently, on August 5th, the Egyptian military released a statement which said that 52 suspected militants were killed in previous days in northern Sinai Peninsula. The statement further said that 49 suspected militants were arrested. The military further destroyed 26 hideouts and weapon depots and dismantled 64 explosive devices.
Access to Northern Sinai is still heavily restricted.