Egypt kills 14 suspected militants after Sinai Eid attack

Egypt kills 14 suspected militants after Sinai Eid attack
Egyptian security forces have killed 14 suspected militants during a raid carried out in the restive Sinai Peninsula in response to a deadly checkpoint attack, the authorities said.
3 min read
06 June, 2019
The raid came after an attack on Egyptian forces in Sinai [AFP]
At least 14 suspected militants have been killed by Egyptian security forces during a raid carried out in the restive Sinai Peninsula, in response to a deadly checkpoint attack, authorities said.

Some other suspected militants fled the scene before security forces tracked down and killed 14 of them in the raid, the interior ministry claimed in a statement.

"Following the route of escaped elements responsible for the attack led to a group of terrorist elements in an abandoned hideout in an empty lot," the ministry said.

The security forces surrounded the suspected militants before engaging "in a heavy shootout" which killed 14 of them, it added.

They also found 14 guns, three explosive devices and two explosive belts in their possession.

Pictures of the slain militants lying in pools of blood were also circulated along with the statement.

A medical source sent AFP a list naming the eight police personnel killed, which a security source confirmed.

The agency also received a recording from a police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, of security forces communications that appeared to confirm that a military plane destroyed a tank hijacked by a militant during the attack.

Wednesday's attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, left at least dead eight policemen southwest of al-Arish, capital of North Sinai, and five militants were killed in exchanges of fire that ensued.

In a statement released by its propaganda wing, Amaq, the Islamic State group said its fighters had launched "two simultaneous attacks on two police checkpoints" in al-Arish.

The attack took place on the day Egyptian Muslims marked the holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawki Allam condemned what he described as a ‘despicable terrorist attack’ aimed at turning Muslims Eid celebrations into sadness and grief. 

In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide offensive against the Islamist militants, focused mainly on North Sinai. 

The troubled hotspot has long been a centre of insurgents affiliated with IS that Egypt has battled against.

According to official figures, around 665 insurgents have been killed since the start of the operation, while the army has lost some 50 soldiers.

No independent statistics are available and the region is largely cut off to journalists, making verification of casualty figures extremely difficult.
War crimes

Last month, Human Rights Watch accused both Egyptian security forces and jihadis of committing "war crimes" in their confrontation in the restive North Sinai region.

"While Egyptian military and police forces were responsible for the majority of abuses documented in the report, extremist militants have also committed horrific crimes," the New York-based group said in a 134-page report.

"Some of the abuses carried out by government forces and the militants, which this report documents, are war crimes, and their widespread and systematic nature could amount to crimes against humanity."

HRW compiled the report over two years interviewing more than 50 residents of the Sinai Peninsula, in northeast Egypt, where independent media coverage is effectively banned and a state of emergency has been in force since 2013.

In late 2017, North Sinai was the scene of the deadliest attack in Egypt's modern history when militants killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque, without any group claiming responsibility.

Islamist militants have kidnapped and tortured scores of residents and also attacked security forces.

Security forces have likewise targeted Sinai residents arresting thousands and forcibly "disappearing" dozens, according to the HRW report.

Children as young as 12 have been detained in routine sweeps eventually being jailed in secret prisons.

Alongside the report, a video was released showing footage of air strikes on residents' homes and extrajudicial killings of suspected militants by security forces.

HRW called on the US to halt all military assistance to Egypt until gross violations are fully investigated.

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