Father of suspected Arish hotel bomber says son was missing for 5 months

Ahram Online , Saturday 28 Nov 2015

Emergency personnel and security forces stand next to ambulances outside the Swiss Inn hotel in the Egyptian town of El-Arish, in the Sinai peninsula, following an attack on the hotel by two suicide bombers and a gunman on November 24, 2015 (AFP)

The father of the 23-year-old man suspected to have blown himself up during last week's attacks on a North Sinai hotel says his son had been missing for five months before the bombing, and that he cannot confirm he was the suicide bomber.

The alleged bomber, Ismail, whose family resides in Kafr El-Sheikh's village of Hatibah in Nile Delta, is suspected of being the militant who snuck into the Swiss Inn Hotel kitchen before detonating an explosive belt, according to media outlets citing security sources.

The bombing was one of a series of three simultaneous attacks on the hotel which resulted in the death of seven people.

Ismail had gone missing on 29 June after he finished his exams at the Science Faculty of Kafr El-Sheikh University and had not contacted his family since, his father, Ahmed, was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram's Arabic website.

The father also said that he had filed a police report at the time of his son’s disappearance.

"A DNA analysis must be conducted to verify the identity of the bomber, but so far I cannot be sure it was my son," he added.

Judicial officials, security personnel and an electrician were killed in the attack on the hotel, which was hosting judges supervising parliamentary polls. Eight others were injured in the assault.

An ISIS-affiliated militant group in North Sinai, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the attack. The same group said weeks earlier it had brought down the Russian airliner that crashed over Sinai last month, killing all 224 on board.

Other than the kitchen bombing, the attack on the hotel also involved a militant attempting to ram an explosive-laden car into the building before he was met with gunfire from security forces, who killed the bomber and caused the explosives to detonate away from the building.

Also during the attacks, a gunman went up to one of the hotel rooms and opened fire, killing a judge.

Egypt has been fighting an Islamist militant insurgency in North Sinai for several years.

Islamist militants, who have killed hundreds of security personnel since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, have in recent months targeted several judges amid the conviction of numerous Morsi supporters in terror-related cases.

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