Egypt's army arrests suspect in helicopter rocket attack

Ahram Online , Friday 14 Feb 2014

Egyptian army says it arrested two militants, including the one who shot down a military helicopter in Sinai last month

An observation tower painted in the colours of the Egyptian national flag is seen near the Nitzana crossing, along Israel's border with Egypt's Sinai desert August 20, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian troops have arrested two suspected militants in Sinai, one of whom was involved in a deadly rocket attack on a military helicopter last month.

The Egyptian army said that two "extremely dangerous" militants were arrested Thursday while in hiding in the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid, where Egypt's army is waging a campaign to quell months of militant violence directed at security forces.

One of the men was involved in the downing of an Egyptian military helicopter in the peninsula in January, army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said in a statement. Both men were injured in a gun battle with army forces during the arrest.

Militant fighters shot a surface-to air missile at the helicopter, causing it to plummet and killing the five crewmembers aboard - an attack which raised alarm about that use of sophisticated weaponry by insurgents in Sinai.

An Al-Qaeda-inspired group, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks against police and army since the army's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July, said that it was responsible for the downing of the helicopter. The group has also said that it was behind a number of deadly bombings in Cairo last month.

Militant violence, on the rise since Morsi's ouster, has killed scores of soldiers and policemen in the border volatile region, but has recently spilled over into the capital Cairo and other parts of the country.

Air and ground offensives by Egyptian troops have killed dozens of militants this month. Dozens others were arrested and several militant hideouts and arms caches were destroyed.

Short link: