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Friday, April 3, 2015

Egypt Armed Forces launch military operation in North Sinai after militant attack killed at least 5 soldiers

Egypt's Armed Forces in Sinai (Image: Al-Arabia)

Egyptian Armed Forces launched military operation near the city of Rafah in North Sinai, after gunmen killed at least 5 soldiers in an ambush on Thursday, 2 April.

Several attacks occurred in the morning of Thursday, 2 April, as gunmen attacked military checkpoints near the cities of Sheikh Zuweid and Al-Arish, close to the Israeli-Gaza border.

Gunmen fired on soldiers using automatic rifles and RPG-missiles, according to the official spokesperson of Egypt’s Armed Forces, Mohamed Samir. These attacks were coordinated and planned in advance and targeted Egyptian security and military personnel.

At least 5 soldiers were killed as a result of multiple attacks on Thursday, according to the official reports of Egyptian military, though other reports indicated that at least 17 people were killed, among them 15 soldiers and 2 civilians. Official death toll is though 5 soldiers. 19 soldiers and 10 civilians were also reported to be injured in an attack. All the injured people were transported to the military hospital in the city of Al-Arish.

North Sinai jihadist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has already claimed responsibility for the Thursday attack, publishing statements about it on its Twitter account and on several pro-jihadist websites as well. It was claimed that those simultaneous attacks were planned and appeared to be a part of series of terrorist attacks against Egyptian security personnel planned by the terrorist group. Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis are one of the most powerful militant groups operating in Sinai since Egypt’s Islamist backed President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in 2013. Egyptian military launched several military operations against this terrorist group since 2013. Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has also pledged allegiance to ISIS in November 2014, forming the so called Sinai Province of Islamic State.

Egyptian Armed Forces have launched massive military operation in the area of Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid and Al-Arish, according to the Army official spokesperson Mohamed Samir. Apache helicopters were patrolling the area in search of the jihadi fighters, while the military launched operation against the militants. 15 terrorists were reported to be killed as a result of a military operation. The operation is currently ongoing.

Egypt is fighting back Islamist insurgency in Northern Sinai since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in 2013, as hundreds of people, mainly military and security personnel, were killed as a result of the multiple terrorist attacks carried out in Sinai and in many Egyptian cities as well including Cairo. Egyptian military claims that at least 70 jihadists were killed during the previous month.