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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Egypt claims there are around 1,600 extremists in Sinai

Egyptian troops in Sinai

The official news agency MENA reported on Wednesday that Egyptian forces are searching currently for 120 wanted militants who are responsible for the recently happened border attacks in Northern Sinai. The military source also states there are around 1,600 extremists and terrorists hiding out on the territory of the lawless Sinai Peninsula.

The situation in Sinai worsened significantly after 18-days uprising in 2011 and ouster of Egypt’s long standing President Hosni Mubarak. Lack of security and military presence in the region provoked the wave of lawlessness in Sinai which resulted in the deadly attacks against Egyptian military and police.

The network of underground tunnels connecting Egyptian Sinai with the neighboring Gaza have been used for weapon smuggling and helped the numerous militants to infiltrate the Egyptian territory, where they are believed to establish the terrorist network with bases in Sinai desert and mountains. They conducted a few attacks along the border between Egypt and Israel during last year, but the most terrible attack took place on 5 August 2012. The unidentified gunmen attacked Egyptian border checkpoint close to Rafah, near Israeli border. 16 Egyptian soldiers and policemen were killed and 7 were injured as a result of this attack. The terrorists then seized Egyptian military vehicle and moved to the Israeli border where they were killed in an explosion by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

The series of other attacks and clashes between the militants and Egyptian soldiers and policemen followed this deadly incident, with the police stations in El-Arish to be attacked. Egyptian Armed forces increased their presence in the region and started the massive offensive in attempt to fight the militants responsible for the attacks and to eliminate the terrorists’ network established on the territory of Sinai. The neighboring Israel approved Egyptian request to deploy the additional military troops and weapons and also for using the air craft.

The military operation is still ongoing in Sinai. Military officials declare some of the terrorists were killed during the operation and some suspected were arrested by Egypt’s Armed forces during the offensive. There are 120 terrorists wanted in Sinai, including the groups which are responsible for the border attacks, according to the military authorities. The network of the militants hiding in Sinai estimates nearly 1,600. They are mostly the followers of the so called “takfiri” ideology, which is one of the most extremist, and the representatives of this ideology even excommunicate other Muslims who disagree with their ideas and do not share their beliefs. Most of them are from different provinces of Egypt, some of them are from other countries.

Egypt’s military operation in the region is ongoing and will continue until the situation will be stable and the security and stability will be restored in Sinai, according to the statements of officials.