Egyptian army blames ‘disloyal fundamentalist elements’ for carrying out latest attack in volatile peninsula.
Ten Egyptian security personnel, including three army officers, have been killed in two roadside bombings during a security operation in Egypt’s troubled Sinai peninsula on Thursday, an Egyptian army spokesman said.
The explosions hit the security vehicles during a raid on a group affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
Security forces said at least 15 ISIL fighters were killed and seven arrested during the operation. Soldiers also found half a tonne of explosives, as well as cars, weapons and hundreds of mobile phones.
“While pursuing the terrorists, two army vehicles struck roadside bombs, leading to the martyrdom of three army officers and seven other military personnel,” army spokesman Tamer el-Refai said in a statement.
Yehia Ghanem, Al Jazeera’s Middle East analyst, said security operations against armed groups in the area will continue.
“It’s not the first and it’s not it’s not going to be the last as long as nobody addresses the real issues in Sinai,” Ghanem said. “Sinai and the Egyptian locals have always felt alienated by the central government for decades.”
Egyptian forces have battled various armed groups who have gained pace in the rugged and thinly populated Sinai peninsula since the military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013.
Since then, hundreds of police officers and soldiers have been killed in attacks, prompting a number of security restrictions in the area.
Ghanem said such restrictions are not working, however, and are instead encouraging the rise of anti-government fighters.
“I believe the security approach, the restricting security measures is not the real medication for what’s happening in Sinai,” he said.
“People in Sinai have to be given this feeling of being part of the homeland in the valley. Laws have to change because the environment that was prepared over decades in Sinai actually suits or plays as an incubator for such … violent acts.”
In January, a truck-bomb attack on a checkpoint killed at least seven police officers in the city of el-Arish in northern Sinai. In a separate incident in January at least five soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen.
There have also been a number of attacks by armed groups on Egypt’s Coptic Chrisitans, forcing hundreds to flee Sinai. Last month, ISIL released a video threatening to carry out attacks against Christians in the country.