North Sinai security chief dismissed after recent police deaths

Zeinab El Gundy, Ahram Online, Sunday 4 Nov 2012

Interior Minister sacks regional police chief in surprise visit to Al-Arish, Sunday, to quell police strike after three officers shot dead in armed ambush Saturday; Defense Minister to reassess peninsula security

Egyptian security forces stand near burning tires set by protesters in front of the North Sinai governorate headquarters in el-Arish, Egypt (Photo: AP)

Head of the North Sinai Security Directorate, General Ahmed Bakr was dismissed Sunday during a surprise visit made by Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin to the border city of Al-Arish, after three local policemen were gunned down by unnamed assailants Saturday.

Bakr's dismissal was part of the demands put to the authorities by striking police officers, who have been stationed in front of the governorate's headquarters since Saturday in protest of the killings. His deputy Sameh Bashadi was appointed in his place. 

Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi joined Gamal Eddin in the visit to Al-Arish, in order to put an end to the police strike.

Colonel Ahmed Ali, spokesperson to the Egyptian Armed Forces, stated on his official Facebook Page that Minister El-Sisi would inspect security measures in the area and discuss the latest developments with the North Sinai governor. 

The striking policemen, who initially blocked the Al-Arish-Rafah highway and were protesting outside the North Sinai governorate headquarters, are demanding the return of security in the region through the application of emergency laws. They are also calling for better security measures to ensure their own safety.

Military forces subsequently surrounded the government building Saturday and forced the protesting policemen to free the major highway.

The restive border region has witnessed an increase in violence over the course of the past few months with recurring clashes occurring between security forces and militants.

According to a security source, Saturday's bloody ambush on the police officers was believed to be a counter-attack following the killing of three men by security officers in the region the week before.

Activists from Sinai have reported that several groups of policemen have abandoned their locations in the northern regions, complaining not enough security measures have been taken to assure their safety.

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