Egypt: Islamist election candidate shot dead in Sinai

Egypt: Islamist election candidate shot dead in Sinai
Suspected militants shot dead an Islamist candidate in the parliamentary election, as four police officers were killed around Egypt, local media has reported.
4 min read
26 October, 2015
Smoke rises after a government air raid in North Sinai in July [Getty]
Gunmen shot dead an Islamist candidate in Egypt's parliamentary elections in North Sinai on Saturday, officials said, where Islamic militants are waging an insurgency against the government.

Mostafa Abd al-Rahman, a candidate for the pro-government Salafi al-Nour party, was gunned down by two assailants on a motorbike outside his home in the town of al-Arish, police officials said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the assassination.

      Nour has not fared well in the ongoing elections [Getty] 
The Nour Party has called for an immediate investigation into the assassination, according to al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.

Five parliamentary candidates in North Sinai have withdrawn from the elections following Abd al-Rahman's assassination, state-run al-Ahram has reported.

After a poor performance in the ongoing elections and reports the Islamist party was considering withdrawing, Nour issued a statement on Thursday confirming that it would stay in the race.

The head of the party, Younis Makhyoun, has said his party is being attacked in the media and that the current parliamentary elections lacked basic fairness and justice.

See Also: Photo Gallery: Alexandrians vote in parliamentary elections

Nour was the only prominent Islamist party to emerge unscathed from a crackdown on Islamists following the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohammad Morsi in 2013, having supported his ousting by army chief turned president Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi.

With Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood blacklisted, and thousands of its activists killed or detained, the Nour party remained as the main Islamist grouping contesting the parliamentary elections that began on October 18.

Sisi is contending with a fierce insurgency in the Sinai by Islamic State group [IS] affiliated militants who have branded his government as apostate.

Police officials say they believe Islamic militants targeted the candidate to undermine the elections.

Abd al-Rahman, who also acted as the North Sinai secretary general for the party, would be the first politician killed by militants in the two-year insurgency since Morsi's overthrow.

Militants have focused most of their attacks on the military, police and judiciary.

On Saturday, the IS-affiliated group Wilayat Sinai claimed credit for two roadside bombings in al-Arish over the past 48 hours that killed four policemen.

It also said it had planted a bomb at a Cairo intersection flanked by hotels near the pyramids, which wounded four people when police tried to defuse it on Friday.

Also on Saturday, gunmen on motorbike shot dead a police officer dead close to the city of Beni Suef, south of Cairo, according to local media.

Attacks follow army operation

The attacks came despite a massive army operation to quell the insurgency in the peninsula bordering the Gaza Strip, and which the army claimed in September had killed scores of Islamic militants.

The Egyptian armed forced announced on Sunday that 25 militants had been killed and 15 arrested in two days of military operations in al-Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai

Hundreds of policemen and soldiers had been killed in attacks since Morsi's overthrow, which unleashed a deadly crackdown on his supporters in which hundreds of protesters have been killed.

Egypt had tightened security for the multi-stage election, which runs from October 18 to December 2.

The election was part of a promised transition to democracy by Sisi after he overthrew Morsi, the country's first freely elected leader whose divisive year in power prompted massive rallies demanding his resignation.

The poll comes following a constitutional referendum and the 2014 presidential elections that Sisi won.

Turnout in the first round on October 18 was relatively low, with only 26.6 percent of registered voters casting ballots, according to an electoral commission official.

An independent research organisation however has said the turnout was a mere 3.6 percent.

A sharp drop from the 62 percent registered in the first stage of the last parliamentary poll, held in 2011 months after the ouster of long-time president Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood won most seats, followed by the Nour party, creating an Islamist-dominated parliament eventually disbanded by a court order in 2012.

Observers say the outcome of this election is a foregone conclusion and expect the 596-member parliament to firmly represent Sisi's policies in the absence of any opposition.