Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Egypt | isis | sinai | military | morsi

Egypt Vows to Wipe Out ISIS After Deadly Sinai Attack

Thursday, 02 July 2015 06:53 AM

Egypt vowed to crush an escalating insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday after Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists killed dozens in their most spectacular assault yet in the strife-plagued region.

The violence poses a major test for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who has pledged to wipe out the militants.

The military deployed F-16 warplanes on Wednesday to bomb ISIS fighters who battled security forces on the streets of the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid after launching a surprise dawn blitz on army checkpoints.

The military said 17 soldiers and 100 militants had been killed. Medical and security officials said at least 70 people, mostly soldiers, had died along with dozens of jihadists. The reason for the discrepancy in the tolls was unclear.

"The armed forces are leading a vicious war against terrorism," the military said in a statement.

"We have the will and determination to root out this black terrorism," it added. "We will not stop until Sinai is cleansed of all the dens of terror."

The White House condemned the unprecedented wave of attacks, which came two days after state prosecutor Hisham Barakat was assassinated in a Cairo car bombing, the most senior government official killed in the jihadist insurgency.

"The United States stands resolutely with Egypt amidst the spate of terrorist attacks ... and will continue to assist Egypt in addressing these threats to its security," the US National Security Council said.

Egyptian state-owned newspapers rallied around the army.

"Victory or martyrdom," said a front-page headline in Al-Ghomuriya. "Revenge," said a headline in Al-Akhbar.

The military spokesman posted photographs on his Facebook page of militants killed in the fighting.



The Sinai attacks were the most brazen in their scope since jihadists launched an insurgency in 2013 after the army, under Sisi's command, overthrew Egypt's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi.

Militants took over rooftops and fired rocket-propelled grenades at a police station in Sheikh Zuweid after mining its exits to block reinforcements, a police colonel said.

"For hours the terrorists moved freely in the streets which they had mined," Ayman Mohsen, a resident from Sheikh Zweid who witnessed Wednesday's clashes, told AFP.

"They fired rockets and bullets at the army camp in Zuhour and the Sheikh Zuweid police station."

"This is war," a senior military officer told AFP. "It's unprecedented, in the number of terrorists involved and the type of weapons they are using."

ISIS said its jihadists surrounded the police station after launching attacks on 15 checkpoints and security installations using several suicide car bombers and rockets.



Troops regularly come under attack in the Sinai, where jihadists have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since Morsi's overthrow.

Wednesday's attack was similar to a series of ambushes on April 2 in which dozens of militants attacked checkpoints, killing 15 soldiers.

In January, a rocket and car bomb attack on a military base, police headquarters and residential complex for troops and police killed at least 24 people, most of them soldiers.

The attacks have come despite stringent security measures in the Sinai, including a nighttime curfew and the creation of a buffer zone along the Gaza border.

Analysts said the army lacked expertise in fighting the insurgents.

"It's not putting in the right units. The groups need to be chased by special forces and what the army is doing is that it is deploying regiments. Sending F-16s does not work," said Professor Mathieu Guidere, a specialist on jihadist groups at France's University of Toulouse.

Egypt responded to the growing insurgency on Wednesday by passing a controversial anti-terror law and requesting the appeals process be shortened, measures it said would "achieve swift justice and revenge for our martyrs."

Sisi has vowed to toughen laws and suggested fast-track executions following the state prosecutor's assassination.

The government designated Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist group" in December 2013 as part of a crackdown on the opposition that has left hundreds of his supporters dead and thousands in prison.

Courts have sentenced hundreds to death, including Morsi, who was convicted of involvement in attacks on police stations. His sentence is being appealed.


© AFP 2019

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Egypt vowed to crush an escalating insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday after Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists killed dozens in their most spectacular assault yet in the strife-plagued region.
Egypt, isis, sinai, military, morsi
Thursday, 02 July 2015 06:53 AM
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