Egypt's Sisi discusses North Sinai security with defence minister, officials

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Mar 2016

Sisi meeting
Egypt's President meets with defense and interior ministers and top security officials on March 22, 2016 (Photo courtesy of Presidency's office)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met on Tuesday with defence and interior ministers, the armed forces' chief of staff, and a number of top officials to discuss security developments in Egypt, specifically in the restive North Sinai governorate.

"The meeting included a briefing on security developments as well as plans that the armed forces and police are implementing [in North Sinai] to counter terrorist elements that aim to harm the country's stability," presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef said.

Youssef added that El-Sisi ordered during the meeting the continuation of full coordination in fieldwork between the armed forces and police, stressing the necessity of exercising a high degree of diligence.

El-Sisi asked officials to continue "targeting terrorist and criminal elements," but stressed the importance of putting citizens’ security and safety first.

The meeting comes three days after 15 policemen were killed in an armed attack on a police checkpoint in North Sinai's Al-Arish. 

A security source told Al-Ahram Arabic website late on Monday that a policeman and two conscripts from the checkpoint are still missing after the attack.

According to an official statement by the interior ministry on Monday, the policemen were killed when a mortar shell blasted through a police checkpoint in Arish’s El-Safa neighbourhood. 

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement published online that it had deployed a suicide bomber who blew up a car at the checkpoint before militants attacked the site, according to AFP.

Egypt's army spokesperson Colonel Mohammed Samir told Ahram daily on Sunday that the military could instantly uproot a militant insurgency it is battling in North Sinai, but is refraining from doing so due to concerns for the lives of local residents.

The military "is capable of instantaneously purging Sinai [of militancy] but it is keen to [protect]…residents from dangers," Samir was quoted as saying, adding that the battle against the insurgency is "a matter of time."

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