29 January 2016

Egypt: Sinai Province Militant Group Claims Responsibility for Deadly Arish Attack

Cairo — The Sinai Province militant group which is affiliated with the Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility on Friday for a deadly attack that struck North Sinai's al-Arish city.

The militant group, formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, issued a statement on Twitter through an account affiliated with it.

A blast left two police officers dead and five other policemen with minor injuries, the interior ministry said in a statement published on its Facebook page on Friday.

The blast was caused by "an explosive device" and took place near the Ahmed Orabi school, the ministry added.

Aswat Masriya could not independently verify the content of this statement. Anti-terrorism legislation imposes heavy fines on news organizations that contradict official statements.

Sinai Province said in a statement, which Aswat Masriya could not independently verify, that around eight were either killed or injured in the blast that targeted a police vehicle, near Ahmed Orabi in Arish.

The militant group changed its name to Sinai Province after pledging allegiance to Islamic State fighters in November 2014. The group has increasingly claimed responsibility for attacks in Sinai over the past year and has claimed responsibility for the downing of the Russian plane twice that crashed in the Sinai desert on Oct. 31, leaving all 224 passengers and crew dead.

Egypt is battling an insurgency in North Sinai that peaked following the military ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013, after protests against his rule.

Hundreds of suspected militants have been killed and hundreds more arrested in multiple security campaigns that have been launched by the army, according to statements by the armed forces.

Although attacks have taken place outside of the Sinai desert including in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Mansoura, the province of North Sinai is considered the base of militancy in Egypt.

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