Egypt’s Sisi orders security reshuffle after attacks
Egyptian president replaces head of top security body after ambush left scores of soldiers dead southwest of Cairo.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has replaced senior security officials in the wake of an ambush that left 55 soldiers dead in the Western Desert.
The reshuffle on Saturday saw 11 security officials, including the head of the National Security Agency (NSA), lose their jobs or become assigned to other positions, according to Egyptian state media.
General Mahmoud Shaarawy, the former head of the NSA, was assigned to handle port security and replaced by General Mahmoud Tawfiq, the Ahram newspaper reported.
Sisi followed the shake-up with a meeting of his top security officials, in which he promised to tighten security and pursue the armed groups responsible for last week’s attack.
At least 55 members of the security forces were killed during an ambush near the Bahariya Oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert, about 180 miles southwest of the capital Cairo.
The attack was one of the deadliest on security forces in recent years, and came just over a month after a similar ambush in Sinai killed 18 soldiers.
An earlier attack in July on an army checkpoint in Sinai left 26 soldiers dead, including a colonel.
Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, which has established a strong presence in the Sinai peninsula.
However, in recent years violence has spread to the mainland, particularly in the west of the country, where Egypt shares a long and porous border with Libya, a country with a plentiful stock of weapons and fighters.
ISIL is just one of the armed groups involved in armed struggle with the Egyptian state, and several more have formed in the aftermath of the 2013 coup, though little is known about them.
As well as security forces, attacks have also focused on Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian population and Sufi Muslims in Sinai.
In May at least 28 Coptic Christians were killed while travelling to a monastery in Minya province.