Egyptian ministers in surprise visit to north Sinai

Egyptian ministers in surprise visit to north Sinai
At least one Egyptian conscript was killed just hours after senior government figures made an unannounced visit to North Sinai province.
2 min read
15 May, 2016
Military reinforcements have reportedly been sent to the restive province [Getty]
At least one Egyptian army recruit was killed and others were wounded after an improvised explosive device targeted Egyptian security personnel early on Sunday morning.  

A huge explosion was heard in al-Arish from the Mesaeed neighbourhood, after which troops were deployed throughout the city.

The bombing came hours after a surprise visit to the Sinai by General Sidqi Subhi and Magdi Abdel Ghaffar, the defence and interior ministers, to inspect troops participating in operations against insurgents.

There have reportedly been discontentment and resentment in the ranks of the army and police forces.

On Saturday, the Egyptian government announced additional military reinforcements in several areas of Sinai, possibly hinting at a full-scale military campaign against militants in the area.

Local sources told The New Arab that the army has sent "unprecedented reinforcements" into the Sinai, especially the nothern cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid.

The same sources said they feared that local populations would come under attack if a full scale campaign was launched.

The New Arab previously reported that military reinforcements were sent to Rafah earlier this month, which was followed by an intensifying campaign to villages west of the city.

Attacks on the Egyptian army and police by Islamic State group-linked militants have increased recently, as the death toll in the Egyptian security services continues to rise.
Egypt's bid to isolate the Gaza Strip [click to enlarge]

Also on Sunday, the Islamic State local affiliate in the Sinai issued a statement saying that it had recruited an Egyptian sniper from the military to its militant group.

Sinai militants pledged allegiance to IS in November 2014. The parent group controls swathes of Iraq and Syria and also has a presence in conflict-ridden Libya.

Human rights groups have accused the Egyptian military of committing numerous abuses in the resulting counter-insurgency.

Last month, the army said that it killed at least 60 IS militants in an air raid on the group's positions in North Sinai.

It has also razed the homes of thousands of families in the Rafah area along the border with the Gaza Strip, in a bid to crack down on smuggling through the area's notorious tunnels.