Clashes erupt between Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and local Bedouin tribe in Egypt's North Sinai

Zeinab El-Gundy , Tuesday 28 Apr 2015

It's the first known incident of direct fighting between the IS-affiliated group and members of the influential Tarabin tribe

A photo released by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis militant group on Sunday on twitter allegedly for one of their members distributing flyers warning Tarabin tribe from cooperation with the Egyptian armed forces in North Sinai "Source : Twitter"

Clashes erupted between Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and members of the influential local Tarabin Bedouin tribe on Monday, local sources told Ahram Online.  

The clashes were located in Al-Mahadiya, south of Sheikh Zowaid, in North Sinai. 

It's the first known incident of Sinai locals engaging in direct fighting with the radical Islamist group.  

Local sources, who asked to remain anonymous for their safety, told Ahram Online that a group of men from the Tarabin Bedouin tribe decided to take up arms against the outlawed militant group following constant attacks and threats to the tribe. 

On Sunday, the group claimed responsibility for bombing a house owned by influential Tarabin tribe member and businessman Ibrahim El-Argany, allegedly for cooperating with the Egyptian army.

El-Argany, who owns a construction company, on his official Facebook page told Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis that the group had gone too far and that the Tarabin tribe would fight them. The tribe's patience was over, he wrote.

Online newspapers in Egypt have taken El-Argany’s Facebook post to be equivalent to an official statement from the Tarabin tribe. 

Sources close to the Tarabin tribe however told Ahram Online that the tribe did not issue the statement, and that it was the act of an individual. 

Also on Sunday, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis members distributed flyers warning Tarabin tribe members in South Rafah from cooperating with the Egyptian army. Photos of them distributing the flyers appeared on pro-IS websites and social media network accounts.

The group, who recently changed its name to Sinai Province after joining the Islamic State militant group, has previously published videos in which it claims responsibility for the beheadings of several North Sinai residents, including members of the Tarabin tribe, allegedly for cooperating with the Egyptian armed forces.

Egyptian security forces have frequently denied that local tribes in North Sinai were allowed to be armed in order to fight back.

An Islamist insurrection in North Sinai spiked after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed, and hundreds of alleged militants have been arrested or killed in the military campaign against them.

Civilians have also been caught up in the violence.

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