Within two days of Mohammed Morsi’s ouster from the Egyptian presidency, Islamist gunmen staged mulitple attacks against security forces in the Sinai. At least one soldier was killed in the attacks, according to press reports.
The first coordinated assault by Islamic militants since the ouster of Mohammed Morsi came in the lawless Sinai Peninsula. Masked assailants launched coordinated attacks with rockets, mortars, RPGs and anti-aircraft guns on el-Arish airport, where military aircrafts are stationed, as well as the Central Security camp in Rafah and five military and police posts.
According to Daily News Egypt, at least three military helicopters were seen flying around the areas of the attacks in search of those responsible.
Journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy reported on Twitter that a security official said Egyptian authorities have “information [that] Jihadists from Gaza have entered Egypt in past 24-hours.” Fahmy also tweeted that one jihadist was arrested following the attack and admitted that Sinai jihadists were coordinating with Gaza-based jihadists. According to the security official, the detained jihadist said the jihadists “shaved their beards, heads, using army/police uniforms to move around easily.” In addition, the officer said the jihadist confirmed that jihadists “plan to kidnap foreigners and security personnel in North/South Sinai.”
On July 4, unidentified gunmen shot and critically injured a security officer in the Sinai, the Ma’an News Agency reported . And on June 29, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a senior security officer in the Sinai.
Earlier this week, Egyptian security sources warned that jihadists were prepared to target security installations if Mohammed Morsi was overthrown. In Israel, authorities are also concerned that the current instability in Egypt will create a security vacuum in which jihadists will attempt to carry out large-scale attacks.
Following today’s attacks, authorities announced that they were closing the border crossing with Gaza indefinitely. In addition, the army announced that it was “on alert” in the south Sinai and Suez, but not yet in a state of emergency. Reinforcements will reportedly be deployed in the Sinai in the coming hours.
The Egyptian army recently increased troop deployment along the border with Gaza in coordination with Israeli authorities.
Last August, 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed in an attack by jihadists at a Rafah military outpost. Egyptian authorities have thus far failed to announce what group was responsible for the attack. Egyptian media outlets have suggested that senior members of Hamas were involved, but Hamas has vehemently denied the allegations.
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