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Sinai not military zone, no curfew imposed: Military spokesman

Egypt's Armed Forces deny closure of Sinai following deaths of three policemen Saturday; joint US-Egyptian military delegation to peninsula monitor security situation

Ahram Online , Monday 5 Nov 2012
Sinai not military zone, no curfew imposed
Protesters sit in a road blocked by burning tires in front of the North Sinai governorate headquarters in el-Arish, Egypt, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 (Photo: AP)
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Egyptian Armed Forces spokesman, Ahmed Mohamed Ali, denied media rumours that the Sinai Peninsula has become a closed military zone and that a curfew was imposed in North Sinai, Egypt's official news agency MENA reported Sunday.

Ali told MENA that the false reports came after an increase in security following the deaths of three policemen by unknown assailants in the border city of Al-Arish on Saturday.

He further added that the current situation in Sinai is under control and that the military are working closely with the police authorities to ensure the "security and sovereignty of such a strategic spot in Egypt."

Following the incident, Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin both visited Al-Arish Sunday afternoon.

Ali said that the visit by top officials to the Sinai region is proof of the return to relative normalcy.  

In a related move, a joint American-Egyptian military delegation travelled to the Sinai resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh, Monday, to inspect the security situation, German news agency DPA reported.

Seven officials were part of the assembly, including the director of the US Office of Military Cooperation-Egypt and Egyptian Armed Forces liaison officer Osama Abdel-Aziz.  

On Saturday and Sunday police officers staged a strike outside the North Sinai Governorate headquarters and blocked the main Al-Arish-Rafah highway in protest of the deaths of their colleagues.

They demanded that the head of the North Sinai Security Directorate be removed and the application of emergency laws to return security to the region.

Consequently, the interior minister dismissed security chief General Ahmed Baker, Sunday, and appointed his deputy, Sameh Bashadi, in his place.

The restive border region has witnessed an increase in violence over the course of the past few months with recurring clashes between security forces and militants taking place.

Saturday's bloody ambush on the police officers was believed to be a counter-attack following the killing of three men by security officers the week before.

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