Egypt Army Reports Killing 83 Militants In North Sinai

 

Egypt’s army said Monday it had killed 83 militants in clashes in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where an Islamic State group affiliate has waged a long-running insurgency.

Security forces “eliminated 77 takfiris”, referring to Sunni Muslim extremists, who were found with stacks of weapons and ammunition in north and central Sinai, the army said.

Six other “highly dangerous” militants were killed in shootouts in the region, the army said in a statement on a nationwide anti-militant operation between September 28 and November 4.

Three soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting, the statement added, without elaborating.

About 61 “criminals, wanted individuals and suspects” were arrested, it said.

Security forces also destroyed dozens of hideouts and vehicles as part of the ongoing operation, according to the statement.

Egypt has for years been fighting an insurgency in North Sinai that escalated after the military’s 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests.

In February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants, mainly focused on North Sinai.

The operation also targets other areas including the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.

The latest army figures brings the death toll of suspected militants in the Sinai region to more than 830.

About 60 security personnel have been killed since the start of the offensive.

Following the death of IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi late last month, the group’s North Sinai affiliate has pledged allegiance to his successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi.

Sinai Militants Kill Four Egypt Security Personnel

 

Militants killed four Egyptian security personnel on Wednesday at a checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, centre of a long-running jihadist insurgency, security and medical sources said.

“Terrorist elements snatched the mobiles of the security forces and are currently surrounded by the army and police,” a security source told AFP.

Gunfire is being exchanged, he added.

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Another security source confirmed four bodies had been transferred to a hospital mortuary in the North Sinai provincial capital El-Arish.

He told AFP there were fears the death toll would rise as there were reports of attacks on multiple checkpoints.

The attack came at the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

AFP

Netanyahu Says Will ‘Defend Ourselves’ After Report Of Sinai Strikes

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel would “do whatever is necessary to defend ourselves” after a report its military has carried out dozens of air strikes against jihadists in Egypt’s Sinai.

Netanyahu did not address the New York Times report published Saturday, commenting only generally on Israel’s stance. Israel’s military also declined to comment.

The report, citing current and former US and British officials, said Israeli forces had carried out more than 100 airstrikes in Egypt over the course of more than two years with Cairo’s approval.

Using unmarked drones, helicopters and jets, the strikes in northern Sinai just over the border with Israel have targeted jihadists linked with the Islamic State group, it said.

Speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting, Netanyahu referred to recent meetings with US President Donald Trump, European leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“As I also made it clear to President Trump and afterwards to European leaders and President Putin, our presence here is the main element in the Middle East blocking the spread of radical Islam, led by Iran and Islamic State, which also threaten all other elements in the world,” he said.

“We are not bent on war, but we will do whatever is necessary to defend ourselves.”

IS-linked militants have waged a deadly insurgency in the Sinai against Egyptian security forces, and Israeli officials have watched the violence with concern.

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab nations with peace treaties with Israel, but relations remain sensitive due to hostility toward the Jewish state among their populations.

While there have long been suggestions of behind-the-scenes military and intelligence cooperation between Egypt and Israel, officials from both countries rarely comment publicly on them.

Netanyahu has repeatedly spoken of improving ties with Arab nations in recent months without providing details, with many analysts saying their shared concern over Iran and IS jihadists has drawn them closer together.

AFP

Egypt’s President Vows ‘Brutal’ Response To Mosque Attackers

 An angry Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged to respond with “brutal force” against militants who massacred at least 235 people at a mosque during weekly prayers on Friday.

“The army and police will avenge our martyrs and return security and stability with force in the coming short period,” he also said in a televised speech.

 

AFP

Russia Flies 11,000 Tourists Back From Egypt

Russia has announced that it will be flying more tourists home on Sunday, after 11,000 were airlifted home from Egypt in the past 24 hours.

After initially dismissing suspicions that a bomb brought down a Russian plane in Sinai, the government said on Friday that it was suspending all flights to Egypt.

Dozens of special flights were permitted for tourists wanting to go home.

A remembrance service has been held in St Petersburg for the 224 victims of the crash, most of whom are Russian.

The United Kingdom (UK) has flown 3,500 travellers out of Sharm El-Sheikh, from where Metrojet Flight 9268 took off for St Petersburg on October 31.

On Friday, European investigators, who analysed the two flight recorders from the Russian Metrojet plane that went down on October 31 in Egypt, categorically said that the crash was not an accident.

The investigators said the cockpit voice recorder showed an explosion and the flight data recorder confirmed that the explosion was not accidental — there is no sign of mechanical malfunction during the initial part of the flight, the CNN said, citing affiliate France 2 report.

Everything is fine during the first 24 minutes, then in a fraction of a second there is a blackout and no more cockpit conversation, convincing investigators there was a bomb on board, the investigators stated.

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.

Security Building In Cairo Rocked By Bomb Blast

cairo blastA car bomb explosion has rocked the state security building in Northern Cairo, injuring at least six Policemen.

Thankfully, no death was reported in the explosion in northern Shubra District of the city.

The blast comes just days after President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi approved new counter-terrorism laws.

The laws established special courts and offered additional protection from legal consequences for military and police officers who had used force.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, however militants based in northern Sinai, who are affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) – have been behind many of the recent bomb attacks in Cairo.

The Egyptian security forces have been the focus of the bombings and the militants have vowed to continue targeting them.