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Egypt earmarks LE10 bn for development, counter-terrorism in Sinai: Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi says LE10 billion will be allocated for development, anti-terrorism efforts in the restive Sinai Peninsula

Ahram Online , Sunday 1 Feb 2015
Sinai Bedouins
Bedouins wait for tourists to get a camel ride in the Red Sea city of Dahab, Sinai, October 2, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt is to earmark LE10 billion ($1.3 billion) for development and counter-terrorism efforts in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where an Islamist insurgency is raging and residents along the borders have been evacuated. 

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi made the announcement during a meeting on Sunday with religious and political figures in Cairo, against the backdrop of a deadly set of militant attacks on Thursday that killed at least 30 people - mostly security personnel - in northern Sinai.

A new university carrying the name of late Saudi King Abdullah, who was a close ally of Cairo, will be established atop a mountain in Sinai, in honour of the deceased monarch's cooperation with Egypt, El-Sisi added.

It was the deadliest attack on security forces since Islamist militants killed 31 soldiers and wounded tens of others on 24 October in northern Sinai.

The October attack prompted the authorities to build a buffer zone along the Gaza border, demolishing houses and clearing residents in a bid to deter what it describes as militant infiltration and arms smuggling from the besieged Palestinian strip.

Meanwhile, the government recently extended a three-month night curfew on Al-Arish by another three months.

Sinai has been the hotbed of an Islamist insurgency in the past ten years.

Jihadist attacks against security forces in the northern part of the border province have intensified since the mid-2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood after mass protests against his rule.

Hundreds of police and troops have been killed since.

The rugged peninsula is scarcely-populated and largely underdeveloped.

Sinai's mostly Bedouin population of almost 600,000 has long complained of negligence by successive governments.

The peninsula's south, dotted with popular tourist resorts along its coastline, has fared better than the northern part economically and has been largely spared the violence. 

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