Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced Tuesday decreasing the curfew hours in North Sinai areas to eleven hours a day.
After a meeting between the president, prime minister and local development minister with representatives of Sinai tribes, the president announced scaling curfew hours down "to make things easier for Sinai’s locals and helping them to earn their livings."
A state of emergency, alongside 14-hour curfews were established in certain areas of the border governorate of North Sinai in October, following a major militant attack in Karm El-Qawadees that left over 30 army personnel dead and dozens injured.
Following the attack, the armed forces launched a campaign against terrorism in North Sinai, which included creating a buffer zone in the border city of Rafah along a 1,000-metre border-line with the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Sinai families were evacuated, while dozens of houses were destroyed in search of secret tunnels that illegally cross borders with Gaza.
The second phase of the buffer zone, along 500 additional metres, is set to start according to statements from the North Sinai governor to Ahram Online last week. More than 1,813 tunnels have been destroyed in North Sinai since January 2011, according to an October report by the state-owned Middle East News Agency.
Attacks on army and police personnel have grown more frequent in the border city, especially after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
Primarily claimed for by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis – an extremist group that pledged loyalty to the Islamic State organisation last month – various militant attacks targeting police and army personnel around the country have left dozens dead over the past year.