Two alleged militants arrested in Sinai

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Aug 2014

Security forces arrest two men believed to belong to the militant Al-Furqan Brigades

Egyptian army in Sinai (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian security forces have arrested two members of a militant group in the restive Sinai Peninsula which has claimed responsibility for several small-scale attacks last year, state news agency MENA said on Tuesday.

The two men, aged 23 and 24, who allegedly belong to a militant group calling itself Al-Furqan Brigades, were arrested on Monday during raids on their homes in the North Sinai town of Al-Arish.

MENA said the duo were involved in terrorist operations, including the killing of police and soldiers, spearheaded by the country's most active militant group Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis. 

Egypt has been plagued by an Islamist insurrection since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last summer. The upsurge in attacks has prompted the military to wage an extensive operation in the Sinai Peninsula to quell the insurgents.

Late last year, Al-Furqan Brigades claimed responsibility for an RPG attack on a satellite communications center in a southern Cairo suburb and called for attacks against the army, describing them as infidels. It also claimed responsibility for attacking a ship in the Suez Canal in September.

Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, based in Sinai and formed in the wake of the 2011 uprising, has claimed responsibility for several high-profile attacks, including an assassination attempt on Egypt's interior minister in Cairo last year.

Last April, the United States and Egypt designated the group a terrorist organisation.

Militant attacks have mainly targeted police and troops but have also led to civilian casualties.

The army's campaign in Sinai involves the destruction of a network of cross-border smuggling tunnels connecting Sinai with the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Troops have destroyed five more passages, driving the total number of tunnels the army has laid waste to to 1,664, the military spokesman said on Monday.

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