A museum in the North Sinai town of Al-Arish was badly damaged on Thursday when a series of coordinated attacks by militants hit sites in and around the city, killing at least 30 people.
Ahmed Sharaf, the head of the museum section at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online by phone that the entrance gate and the façade of the museum were totally destroyed, a number of ceilings had collapsed, and glass windows and doors had shattered.
The museum is located next to the Al-Arish security directorate, a focal point for militant attacks.
“Thank God that the museum was empty as its treasured collection was transported to a secured location at the start of the militant attacks in July 2013,” Sharaf told Ahram Online.
A large whole at the back wall of the museum
The attacks, which included mortar fire and a car bomb, targeted mainly security sites, but a number of civilians were killed in the violence.
Attacks by militant groups based in North Sinai have spiked since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The armed forces have responded by waging a military campaign aimed at eradicating militants in Sinai.
Sharaf said an archaeological and technical committee will inspect the museum on Saturday to check the condition of the building and make recommendations to the ministry.
The museum occupies 2,500 square metres and included 1,500 artefacts that tell the history of Sinai from the pre-dynastic period to the medieval period, including Pharaonic, Graeco-Roman, Coptic, Islamic and other items.
Artefacts unearthed at excavation sites in Sinai such as the Horus military road in Qantara East and Tel Basta in the Nile Delta were also on display.