The Islamic State militant group claimed it killed 15 tribesmen in North Sinai on Wednesday, in the latest episode of clashes between the militants and local tribes.
In a statement published on Thursday through its affiliated online Amaq agency, the IS group claimed that its affiliates in North Sinai ambushed a group of what it described as “pro-Egyptian army” tribesmen at a checkpoint west of the El-Perth area in the governorate, killing 15 of them.
The group stated that it killed Salem Abu Lafy, a leading figure in the El-Tarabin tribe, one of Sinai's largest clans, during the ambush.
On Wednesday the Sinai Tribes Union, a coalition of local tribes opposed to the IS group, confirmed in a statement on their official Facebook page the death of Abu Lafy during fighting with militants, without disclosing specifics.
The union vowed to avenge his death and the death of other members killed by the militant group.
The union also warned that the tribes, especially the El-Tarabin, would punish those who support the IS militant group, harbour the militants, or withhold information about the group from the tribes or the authorities.
On Wednesday, the AP said unnamed security sources had confirmed 10 tribesmen were killed in the clashes.
In late April, the El-Tarabin, Sawarka and Rumeilat tribes publicly declared they would “cleanse” North Sinai of the militant group, in cooperation with the Egyptian armed forces.
Egypt’s army and police forces have been battling a militant Islamist insurgency in North Sinai centered in the cities of Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid for several years, with hundreds killed on both sides.
The IS group has also killed Sinai residents, who it described as collaborators with the Egyptian authorities.