Egyptian army boosts forces in Sinai

2013-05-20 16:15
Mohammed Morsi (Picture: AP)

Mohammed Morsi (Picture: AP)

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El-Arish - The Egyptian army sent reinforcements into the Sinai Peninsula on Monday, after President Mohamed Morsi said there would be no talks with militant Islamists, who abducted seven members of the security forces last week.

Islamist militants have expanded into a security vacuum in Sinai, that the state has struggled to fill since a popular uprising swept autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The groups have launched attacks on Israel and targets in North Sinai.

The kidnapping has highlighted lawlessness in the peninsula bordering Israel, enraged Egyptian security forces and piled domestic pressure on Morsi to act.

Egyptian security forces have blocked border crossings into the Gaza Strip to pressure the government into helping free their colleagues.

Witnesses saw armoured personnel carriers moving east on Monday over the Suez Canal towards North Sinai, where militants staged the abduction and where gunmen assaulted a police base on Monday.

They later arrived in the North Sinai town of El-Arish, accompanied by the commander of Egypt's second field army.


Morsi said on Sunday there would be no talks with "the criminals" - a reference to militants who adhere to a more radical school of Islam than the president's Muslim Brotherhood.

The kidnappers are demanding the release of militants convicted last year of the attacks, which killed seven people, six of them members of the security forces, in 2011.

A video posted online on Sunday showed seven blindfolded men with their hands bound above their heads. They said they were the hostages, begging Morsi to free political detainees in Sinai in exchange for their own release.

Al-Masry Al-Youm, an independent newspaper, reported that parents and friends of some of the men who appeared in the video had confirmed their identities.

The video's authenticity could not be independently confirmed.

Read more on:    mohamed morsi  |  egypt  |  north africa

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