Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: https://www.facebook.com/Egy.Pres.Spokesman/)
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Wednesday ordered the Egyptian army and police forces to restore stability and security in the Sinai Peninsula within three months using "utmost force."
The president's command came during his speech at a public celebration of the Prophet Muhammad's birth (Moulid El-Nabi) at Al-Azhar's conference center in Cairo.
The event was attended by tens of Azhar clerics and public officials and including Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb, Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar, and the newly appointed Army Chief of Staff, Mohamed Farid Hegazi.
“I hold Lieutenant General Hegazy, along with the ministry of interior, responsible for restoring stability and security in Sinai within three months," El-Sisi said, directly addressing the general, who stood at military attention.
El-Sisi stressed that the army and the police adhere to this directive.
Wednesday's orders are the Egyptian president's second public directive to security forces to use "utmost force" in counterterrorism operations since the deadly terror attack on Al-Rawda Mosque in North Sinai last Friday, which left 310 dead and tens injured.
Last Friday, hours after the massacre, El-Sisi gave a speech saying that the military and police will avenge the martyrs and respond using utmost force against terrorists to ensure stability and security.
The president also declared three days of national mourning for the victims of the attack.
The Egyptian armed forces and air force have launched several strikes against terror hideouts in North Sinai after Al-Rawda massacre.
The Egyptian army and police have been battling an Islamic militant insurgency in North Sinai in the past several years.
Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which is affiliated to the terror group Daesh, has been carrying out deadly attacks against security forces. However, the army and police have killed many members of the group.
The president noted in his speech today that this year's anniversary of the Prophet's birthday, which is normally a joyous occasion, comes following a devastating attack devoid of any human or moral principles.
“What kind of Islam do these terrorists claim to belong to when they kill children and elderly people, depriving them of their right to live?" he said, describing the attack as "cowardly."
“Egypt is facing a war that seeks to destroy the state and prevent its stability, and some forces assist terrorists with arms to undermine its role," the Egyptian president added.
El-Sisi highlighted high economic growth rates and development efforts in all sectors despite the financial cost of the state's war against terrorism over the past four years.
On Sunday Mohamed El-Ashmawy, the executive director of the Long Live Egypt Fund, announced that the North Sinai town of Bir Al-Abd, where the mosque attack took place, would receive a total of EGP 400 million towards local services and development projects.
“I assure you that we are determined to make Bir El-Abd a city referred to as a model of prosperity and development," El-Sisi pledged.