Explosions at Sinai security bases, militants suspected

Late on Saturday, an explosion rocked a security building in the Egyptian town of Rafah near the border with Gaza. According to Reuters, the blast “partly destroyed the wall of a security base being built for border guards.” Other reports have suggested that it was “an intelligence building.”

A few hours after the first bombing, an explosion hit a facility in Quseima in the Central Sinai. According to Al Masry Al Youm, the facility “was being built for police and security forces guarding the gas pipeline to Jordan.”

At least three workers were injured in the second blast, which Egyptian authorities believe was likely carried out by militants operating in the Sinai Peninsula.

The motive of the attack and the identities of the perpetrators are currently unknown. However, on Wednesday, al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya in Sinai released a statement to jihadist forums, in which the group claimed that Egyptian security forces had recently shot and killed a 20-year-old who was seeking to travel to Gaza and help Palestinians. The group warned that continued attacks on citizens would likely “lead to an explosion of the situation and push the people to commit reprisals” as was seen in early November.

Two weeks ago, Sinai militants fired on the Central Security Forces camp near el Arish in the North Sinai on two separate occasions. In both cases, the attackers fled the area after security forces fired back. No casualties were reported in either incident.

Since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, a number of Salafi jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda have sprouted up in the Egyptian Sinai. The terror groups have conducted attacks against Israel, international peacekeepers in the Sinai, Egyptian forces, and a pipeline transporting natural gas to Israel and Jordan. Israeli intelligence believes that most of the attacks originating in the Sinai have been carried out by Ansar Jerusalem, also known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

On Nov. 3, three Egyptian policemen were killed in the city of el Arish in the North Sinai governorate. At least one other policeman was injured in the attack. Although the attack was blamed on jihadists, al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya in Sinai denied that jihadists were involved. A couple of days after this attack, a senior Egyptian security official was wounded in another attack in the Sinai.

Egyptian forces reportedly increased their presence in the Sinai after the incidents and have since arrested a number of wanted jihadists.

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