Suicide attack kills 7 policemen in Egypt's Sinai

Suicide attack kills 7 policemen in Egypt's Sinai
Egypt's interior ministry said at least seven police officers have been killed in a jihadist attack in the restive North Sinai, where authorities are engaged in a battle against militants.
3 min read
26 June, 2019
The militant targeted an assembly gathering in El-Arish [AFP]
Seven police officers have been killed in a jihadist attack in restive North Sinai, Egypt's interior ministry said on Wednesday.

The attack near the regional capital El-Arish targeted an "assembly centre" for police, according to the ministry.

Four assailants died "during clashes" following the attack, one when he detonated an explosives belt, it said.

North Sinai has long been a centre of insurgents and Egyptian authorities last year launched an offensive against the jihadists.

Hundreds of militants have been killed along with dozens of soldiers, according to official figures which cannot be verified as Sinai is largely cut off to journalists.

Earlier this month, warplanes of unknown origins carried out airstrikes on cities in northern Sinai, local sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

The airstrikes took place six days after an attack claimed by a local Islamic State group-affiliate which killed at least eight Egyptian soldiers.

The sources said that the planes had hit targets to the west of Rafah and to the south of Sheikh Zuwayed. The targeted areas included residential buildings and agricultural areas but no casualties were reported.

In the days prior, Israeli drones reportedly flew over the area while Israeli helicopters bombed bombed targets south of Rafah, the sources said.

Human Rights Watch in May accused both Egyptian security forces and jihadists 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.

Meanwhile, Egypt is currently on high alert as it hosts the Africa Cup of Nations, although none of the games are taking place in Sinai.

A month before the tournament kicked off, a tourist bus was hit by a roadside bomb near the famed pyramids of Giza.

A similar attack in December killed three Vietnamese holidaymakers and an Egyptian tour guide.

The country's security forces and Christian minority have also been targeted by jihadist attacks.

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