Egyptian Army Kills 52 Jihadists In Sinai Peninsula

A picture taken on July 26, 2018, shows Egyptian policemen stand to guard a checkpoint on a road leading to the North Sinai provincial capital of El-Arish. PHOTO: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP
A picture taken on July 26, 2018, shows Egyptian policemen stand to guard a checkpoint on a road leading to the North Sinai provincial capital of El-Arish. PHOTO: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

The Egyptian army said on Sunday that its forces have killed, over the past few days, 52 jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula where the military is conducting a vast operation against militants.

Egyptian forces launched operation “Sinai 2018” in February to rid the peninsula of Islamic militants who have been waging a bloody insurgency.

“Over the last few days, the operations have led to… the elimination of 52 extremely dangerous takfiri individuals,” the military said in a statement referring to Sunni Muslim extremists.

During these operations in North Sinai and the centre of the peninsula 49 militants were also arrested in joint raids conducted by the armed forces and the police, the statement added.

More than 250 jihadists and at least 30 soldiers have been killed since the military launched the operation, according to official figures.

Jihadists launched an insurgency in Sinai after the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was forced out in the face of mass protests against his rule.

AFP

Egypt Army Announces Major Operation In Sinai, Nile Delta

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on January 31, 2018 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) attending an official ceremony for the inaguration of the offshore Zohr gas field in the northern Suez canal city of Port Said, accompanied by Housing Minister Mustafa Madbouli (L), Central Bank governor Tarek Amer (2nd-L), Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (3rd-L), Egyptian Army Chief of Staff Sedky Sobhy (2nd-R), and Petroleum Minister Tarek al-Molla (R).Handout / EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY / AFP

 

The Egyptian army announced on Friday it had launched a major operation in the Nile Delta and the northern Sinai Peninsula, the heart of a persistent Islamic State group insurgency.

Police and troops have been put on “maximum alert” for the duration of the operation, the army said in a statement.

The security forces have been increasingly targeted by jihadists since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

AFP

Russian Plane Crash: UK Suspects Bomb Was Placed In Hold

uk-sinai crashAmid fears that a bomb brought down a Russian plane on Saturday, killing all 224 on board, reports say United Kingdom (UK) investigators believe a bomb was put in the hold prior to take-off.

The government decided terrorism was likely after receiving intelligence based on intercepted messages between militants in the Sinai peninsula.

Meanwhile, more countries have joined the UK in curbing travel to the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

France, Belgium and the Netherlands warned their nationals not to travel, and German airlines canceled flights.

UK airlines will start to repatriate tourists on Friday, but with hand luggage only.

Militants linked to Islamic State (IS) have claimed they destroyed the plane. But the cause of the crash is still unclear and Russia – which is carrying out air strikes against ISIS in Syria, has warned against pre-empting the outcome of the official investigation.

Russian Plane Crash Investigation Points To Likely Explosion

Russian PlaneThe Russian plane crash in Egypt last weekend has been linked to likely explosion, but it is unclear whether a bomb or technical problems were to blame.

The Airbus A321M crashed on Saturday in the Sinai Peninsula shortly after taking off from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on its way to the Russian city of St Petersburg, killing all 224 persons on board.

Britain, which hosts Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi this week, said an explosive device may well have caused the crash, while CNN quoted a U.S. official as saying a bomb could have been planted on board by militants of Islamic State or one of its affiliates.

“It is believed to be an explosion but what kind is not clear. There is an examination of the sand at the crash site to try and determine if it was a bomb,” an Egyptian source, who is close to the team investigating the black boxes, told Reuters.

“There are forensic investigations underway at the crash site. That will help determine the cause, to see if traces of explosives are found.”

Islamic State, which controls swathes of Iraq and Syria and is battling the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula, said again on Wednesday it brought down the airplane.

The group said it would eventually tell the world how it carried out the attack.

Egypt, a close ally of the United States and the most populous Arab country, dismissed a similar statement by the ultra-hardline group on Saturday.

Sisi has described Islamist militancy as an existential threat to the Arab world and the West and has repeatedly called for greater international efforts to combat the militants.

The office of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was due to hold talks in London with Sisi on Thursday, said in a statement: “As more information has come to light we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device.”

Striking a similar note, the U.S. official quoted by CNN said: “There is a definite feeling it was an explosive device planted in luggage or somewhere on the plane.”

Sinai Plane Crash Victims Flown Back To Russia

SinaiThe bodies of over 140 people who died in Saturday’s air crash in Egypt have been flown back to Russia.

All 224 people on the plane – most of them Russians – died when it came down over the northern Sinai Peninsula. So far 163 bodies have been found.

According to Russia’s emergency ministry, which organised the flight, identification will begin later on Monday at a crematorium in Saint Petersburg where remains of the victims were to be taken in a motorcade.

Family members have been providing DNA samples at a crisis centre set up close to the airport, now the site of an impromptu memorial where people are bringing flowers and cuddly toys to commemorate the victims, many of them children as young as 10 months old.

On Sunday, Russia observed a day of mourning after experiencing its worst air disaster.

As investigations continue into the cause of the crash, Russian air transport agency head, Aleksandr Neradko, says the airliner disintegrated at high altitude.

The Kogalymavia airbus A321 came down early on Saturday, shortly after leaving the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the Russian city of St Petersburg.

Jihadists allied to the Islamic State (Is) in Sinai, claimed responsibility for the crash but Egypt’s Prime Minister dismissed claims by the Islamic State (ISIS), that it is responsible for the crash, saying a technical fault was most likely the cause.

 

Egypt Dismisses ISIS Russian Plane Crash Claims

Egypt Dismisses ISIS Russia Crash Claims Egypt’s Prime Minister has dismissed claims by the Islamic State (ISIS), that it is responsible for the crash of a Russian passenger plane in Sinai, saying a technical fault was most likely the cause.

An investigation has commenced into the cause of the crash in which all 224 people on board were killed.

Despite the Egyptian authority’s assurances, three airlines; Emirates, Air France and Lufthansa have decided not to fly over the Sinai Peninsula until more information is available.

Meanwhile, Russia is observing a day of mourning, following its worst aviation disaster.

Officials, however, said that the plane’s black boxes had been found and sent for analysis.

Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister, Hossam Kamal, said that there had been no sign of any problems on board the flight, contradicting earlier reports that the pilot had asked to make an emergency landing.

An Egyptian official had previously said that before the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers, the pilot had said the aircraft was experiencing technical problems and he intended to try to land at the nearest airport.

Egypt’s Civilian Aviation Ministry said the plane had been at an altitude of 9,450m (31,000ft) when it disappeared.

Security experts, nonetheless, said that a plane flying at that altitude would be beyond the range of a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (Manpad), which Sinai militants are known to possess.

However, German carrier, Lufthansa, said that  it would avoid flying over the Sinai Peninsula “as long as the cause for Saturday’s crash has not been clarified”.

On Saturday evening, Air France-KLM and Emirates said they were following suit.

British Airways and EasyJet said their routes were regularly reviewed, but that they had no plans to alter their routes to and from Sharm el-Sheikh.

The plane was carrying 217 passengers, including 25 children, Russian transport authorities said. There were seven crew members on board.

Egyptian officials had said 213 of the passengers were Russian and four were Ukrainian, but Russian officials said at least one of the victims was from Belarus.

The bodies of 163 victims have so far been recovered and taken to Cairo.

The Kogalymavia airbus-321 crashed early on Saturday shortly after leaving the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

Egyptian Forces Kill Foreign Tourists In Mexico

egyptianSecurity forces in Egypt have mistakenly killed 12 people, including Mexican tourists, during an anti-terror operation.

The death has been described as unfortunate.

The Interior Ministry confirmed that the tourists were travelling in four vehicles that entered a restricted zone in the Wahat area of the Western Desert.

Ten Mexicans and Egyptians were also injured and are being treated in a local hospital.

Attacks on army and police, mainly in the Sinai Peninsula, have escalated since Islamist President, Mohammed Morsi was ousted in 2013.

Mexico’s President, Enrique Pena Nieto, has condemned the incident and has “demanded an exhaustive investigation by the Egyptian government”.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry confirmed that at least two of its nationals had been killed and it is currently working on confirming the identities of the other victims.

Egypt Vows To Continue Sinai Offensive ‘Until IS Removed’

isEgypt’s military has vowed to continue its attack against Islamic State (IS) militants in the Sinai Peninsula, after clashes left more than 100 dead.

The army maintained that operations will not stop until they rid the area of all terrorist activities.

Air strikes continued into the early hours of Thursday.

The army says 17 soldiers were among those killed after militants launched simultaneous raids on military checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah crossing.

The attack was one of the largest coordinated assaults in the area yet by IS local affiliate, Sinai Province.

It was reported on Wednesday that Separately, security officials said nine members of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood, including former MP, Nasr al-Hafi, had been killed in a Police raid in Western Cairo.

Egypt ‘Brotherhood’ Condemns Sinai Attacks

Muslim BrotherhoodEgypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood has condemned attacks in the Sinai Peninsula that killed at least 33 security personnel on Friday, blaming President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for security failures.

The attacks are a setback for the government, which had managed over the past few months to make some progress in the struggle against an Islamist militant insurgency in the Sinai as it focuses on trying to repair the economy.

It would be recalled that army chief Sisi ousted elected President Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood in July 2013 after protests against his rule.

His government has since cracked down on Egypt’s oldest and most organised Islamist movement, throwing thousands of Mursi’s supporters in jail and labeling the group a terrorist organization. It draws no distinction between the Brotherhood and Islamist militants in the Sinai.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood says it is a peaceful movement and has consistently denied links to Islamist militant attacks against security forces, which have increased since the movement was removed from power.

In an e-mailed statement to Reuters, the Brotherhood called the attacks a “massacre” and offered condolences to the victims’ families.

“The Muslim Brotherhood believes the shedding of blood of any Egyptian is forbidden. The group holds the junta and its leaders responsible for the continued failure in the security, economic and social fields, as experienced by all the people, especially the people of the Sinai,” the statement said.

The Muslim Brotherhood was propelled to power in 2012, winning Egypt’s first free elections after the 2011 uprising that removed Hosni Mubarak from power after 30 years.

Sisi won a presidential election in May, after ousting Mursi from the presidency after one turbulent year in power.
He said on Saturday that the attacks were an “existential threat” and Egypt has declared a state of emergency in North Sinai as it seeks to stem attacks.

Hundreds of police and soldiers have been killed in the last year.

Network Africa: Tension, Threats And Unrest, Egyptians Find The Funny Side Of Life

In spite of the concerns raised by the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, over the Boko Haram insurgents, the Federal Government of Nigeria remains optimistic and has given the assurance that its war against terror is being won and there’s no need to panic.

At a news conference in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, revealed that the military was fully equipped to deal with security threats in the country’s North East.

In South Sudan, it’s starting to look like a case of one step forward two steps back; as fighting has broken out in Upper Nile State, making this the first major clash since the Government and rebels signed a ceasefire agreement in January.

Both sides have accused each other of starting the violence in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State. We speak to Philip Aguer, the SPLA spokesperson who is currently in Malakal to give us more details on the situation there.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, the search for gold has led to the death of at least 3 people and the arrest of about 22. The bodies of three illegal miners have been discovered at a disused mine, East of Johannesburg. The abandoned mine is in the same area where more than 20 illegal miners were recently rescued after being trapped underground for several days.

Network Africa also finds out if Uganda would be joining the likes of Nigeria, Angola, Burundi and well over a score of countries who have got anti-gay laws in place by not succumbing to the pressure of Washington, which does not support the move, or would they bow to the pressure from Washington not to sign the Anti-Gay Bill into law?

 Across Africa

We also bring you a couple of stories which made headlines in Africa this week, starting with former Rwandan Mayor, Onesphore Rwa-Bu-Kom-Be, who got sentenced by a German court for his role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The head of the UN Refugee Agency in Liberia is concerned about the alleged “forced deportation” of 14 Ivorian refugees.

Lawyers for deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have walked out of his trial on charges of espionage and conspiring to commit acts of terror. Mr Morsi was put in the soundproof cage in recent appearances to prevent him shouting and disrupting proceedings.

The defendants have said they cannot follow proceedings because of the cage, but the judge insisted that headphones installed inside the dock would allow them to listen.

The Egyptian Prime Minister, Hazem Beblawi, has confirmed that Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula are becoming a threat to foreign tourists, and they are not leaving anything to chance concerning an apparent ultimatum given by Islamist militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis for tourists to leave the country. We bring you a chat with Elizabeth Arrott of the Voice of America, who is in Cairo for a clearer understanding of the situation.

Egyptian Comedy Club

Despite the tension, threats and unrest, some Egyptians have embraced the funny side of life. An Egyptian comedy club is giving new talent a platform to perform and introduce them to the international world of stand-up.

It was founded by Hashem El Garhy and its called ‘Al Hezb El Comedy’ meaning ‘The Comedy Party’. It remains the only existing comedy platform in Egypt, which offers aspiring comedians room to perform.

Enjoy this episode of Network Africa.