Militants kill Egyptian security forces in checkpoint attack
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 3/21/16, 02:08 pm
An Egypt-based Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate killed 15 policemen on Saturday in a mortar attack on a checkpoint in the city of el-Arish.
Witnesses reported the militants also peppered ambulances with gunfire as they tried to reach the wounded. Security forces killed five of the assailants.
ISIS claimed responsibility in a statement circulated on social media sites. The group said the attack was “part of a series of operations in response to the humiliation and searching of women at checkpoints.” It said a suicide bomber first detonated a car bomb at the checkpoint before its militants opened fire and raided the area.
Egypt has battled insurgency since the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. The local ISIS affiliate has claimed responsibility for most attacks targeting security forces. In 2014, some members of the Egyptian jihadist group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis declared allegiance to ISIS, proclaiming themselves “the Sinai Province.” In October, the terror group took responsibility for bombing a Russian airliner over Sinai, killing all 224 people onboard.
“The security situation in the country is obviously under severe threat,” said Samuel Tadros, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Repression by the government and increasing grievances among the citizens contributes to the growth of extremism in the country, Tadros added. Human Rights Watch accused Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of impunity and mass human rights abuses, saying “violence by armed groups and the government has escalated” since the start of al-Sisi’s rule in 2014.
“The regime has targeted non-Islamist politicians, activists, human right organizations,” Tadros said. “All of these have been targeted by the regime in an attempt to monopolize the political scene and not allow the growth of any opposition.”
Omar Nasef, a foreign policy associate with The Century Foundation, said the solution to Egypt’s security crisis must begin with political reform.
“Include opposition into the political formula so you can have a national consensus, as well as transparency about what’s actually happening on the ground,” Nasef said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.