Egypt's army commemorates 16 soldiers killed in Sinai 2012

Ahram Online, Tuesday 6 Aug 2013

An honourary ceremony is held by the armed forces for families of soldiers killed on Egyptian-Israeli border

Egyptian army tanks roll into North Sinai in 2012 after 16 soldiers killed (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's armed forces commemorate on Tuesday the 16 Egyptian soldiers killed in 2012 near the border with Israel.

"What these soldiers of the armed forces gave ... to protect Egypt's security will remain a true reflection of heroism and redemption," said Military Spokesman Ahmed Ali in a press statement.

According to Ali, the armed forces also honoured the families of the martyrs in a ceremony attended by several leading members of the armed forces.

On 5 August 2012, unidentified militants attacked a security checkpoint by iftar (the hour when people have their meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan) leaving 16 Egyptian soldiers dead. 

The attack, which took place a month after Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as president, led to the sacking of Mubarak-appointed intelligence chief Mourad Mouwafi, the North Sinai governor and various interior ministry officials.

Morsi also issued a decree effectively forcing the top two military positions in the country - the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and defence minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and, secondly, army chief of staff Sami Anan - into retirement.

Tantawi was replaced by military intelligence head Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Sinai has been restively suffering from a security vacuum since the ouster of  autocratic president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

After the popularly-backed army removal of former president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, hardline Islamist militants in the deserted province have intensified attacks on security checkpoints, and it is suspected that they are responsible for the murder of 23 security personnel in North Sinai.

Sinai is largely inhabited by Egyptian Bedouins, who have often been at odds with the central government in Cairo over a lack of social and political rights.

According to security sources, the army has killed tens of alleged jihadist fighters since launching its latest crackdown in the Sinai.

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