Sinai militants kill 5 as Egypt probes sea attack

2014-11-13 18:50
Egypt unrest. (Mahmoud Hefnawy, AFP)

Egypt unrest. (Mahmoud Hefnawy, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - Militants shot dead five Egyptian conscripts in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, as the army searched for eight servicemen missing after an attack on a navy boat in the Mediterranean.

The military carried out air strikes in Sinai, killing three members of the Islamist militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, security officials said.

Egypt has been hit by a wave of attacks since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last year, infuriating his supporters.

In Cairo, 16 people were injured on Thursday in a panicked crush on a Cairo metro train after a small bomb exploded during rush hour.

The attacks in Sinai, in which two police conscripts and three soldiers were taken out of their vehicles and shot dead, bore the hallmarks of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which often sets up impromptu checkpoints in the lawless peninsula.

The ambushes came a day after an unprecedented assault on a navy boat wounded five servicemen and left eight lost at sea.

The military, which said late Wednesday it was still conducting search and rescue operations for those missing, has called the incident a "terrorist" attack.

But a day later the identities and goals of the assailants remained unknown.

A security official said that dozens of suspects rounded up at sea after the assault was still being interrogated.

It was not immediately clear whether they were "terrorists" or drug and weapons smugglers who frequent that part of the sea, he said.

Four boats used by the assailants were destroyed, according to the military.

Former French admiral Alain Coldefy told AFP that the attackers could have been militants or illegal migrant traffickers.

"It is too early to know the source of such an attack", said Coldefy, who is now research director with the Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques think-tank in Paris.

"It could be terrorists, or it could have been powerful human traffickers who don't want to be bothered in their affairs."

A militant attack would have taken much preparation but would not have been difficult to carry out given the size of the navy boat, he said.

Militants intercept conscripts

The Egyptian government is fighting an Islamist militant insurgency that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers, but such a maritime attack has not been seen before.

The incident came days after Ansar Beit al-Maqdis pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Egypt's army has launched an unprecedented crackdown in Sinai to quell the militants, razing homes along the border with Gaza to create a buffer zone with the Islamist-controlled Palestinian enclave.

One of the attacks Thursday took place at the entrance of the town of Rafah along the border with Gaza, where the army is demolishing homes to create the buffer zone.

The other occurred several kilometres to the west, in the north Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has spearheaded an insurgency in the peninsula that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew Morsi.

It is believed to have been behind an attack on a military checkpoint last month that killed at least 30 soldiers, the deadliest such incident in years.

Read more on:    isis  |  mohammed morsi  |  egypt  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.