103 'terrorists' arrested, 60 killed in Sinai security crackdown: Army statement

Ahram Online, Wednesday 7 Aug 2013

Sinai has witnessed daily attacks on security forces since the removal of Mohamed Morsi 3 July; UN concerned about Gaza conditions after tunnels destroyed

Army spokesman Ahmed Ali released a statement Wednesday with the results of the police and army's crackdown on "terrorism and jihadists" in Sinai from the period 5 July to 4 August.

The statement, released on Ali's official Facebook page, says that the crackdown resulted in apprehending 227 individuals — 103 of which were arrested and 124 are either dead or injured.

The 103 individuals arrested, from across Sinai, are currently being interrogated. From among the 124, 60 were killed in clashes between security forces, while 64 were injured.

Sinai has suffered a security vacuum since the January 2011 uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak's regime. The situation escalated with the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi 3 July. Militants have attacked police and security forces on a daily basis in response to Morsi's overthrow.

Ali also announced that 102 tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip have been destroyed. The tunnels, according to the statement, were used as an entry point by terrorists, as well as for smuggling weapons, drugs and cars, among others things.

The UN released a statement late July claiming that the army's crackdown closed 80 percent of Gaza's tunnels, many of which have been used to smuggle basic necessities into Gaza, leaving the UN concerned "that already difficult economic and humanitarian conditions in Gaza will further deteriorate."

Ali also stated that 40 petroleum tanks containing 2.7 million litres of gas and diesel, intended to be smuggled into Gaza, have been destroyed.

The armed forces have also destroyed four houses that reportedly sheltered terrorists. The terrorists allegedly used the houses to initiate attacks on security forces.

Some 38 cars reportedly used by terrorists to carry weapons have been seized by authorities.

The army statement comes hours after the murder of a Mubarak-era parliamentarian by unknown assailants in Sinai. Attackers fired from a moving vehicle four bullets at Abdel Hamid Silmi, 58, as he left a mosque early Wednesday after dawn prayers.

Members of Silmi's prominent Fawakhreya tribe gathered amid a charged atmosphere at Al-Arish General Hospital, where Silmi was moved following the shooting outside Abu-Bakr Al-Seddiq Mosque.

According to Reuters, 40 people have been killed by militants attacking security checkpoints since Morsi's ouster.

Critics of the Muslim Brotherhood accuse the group of instigating violence in Sinai — charges much repeated after senior Brotherhood figure Mohamed El-Beltagy stated last month that violence in Sinai would immediately end should Morsi be reinstated.

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