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Officials : Militants Kills 5 in Sinai Peninsula,Egypt

By Tajuddin
Nov 14th, 2014
An army checkpoint is seen in El-Arish in North Sinai

An army checkpoint is seen in El-Arish in North Sinai

Cairo ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) — Militants who set up checkpoints and scoured civilian cars for off-duty security personnel killed five soldiers and police officers in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, according to security officials.

The attacks came despite a large-scale military campaign in the area to root out jihadist groups after the massacre of 31 soldiers last month. The militants’ ability to set up their own roadblocks — in what is essentially a military zone — was a stark reminder of the government’s faltering effort to contain an insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers and officers.

Separately, the Egyptian military said it was searching for eight seamen in the Mediterranean, a day after gunmen in several boats — possibly smugglers — fired on a naval vessel. The military blamed “terrorists” for the assault.

Days earlier, Egypt’s most active militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, declared its allegiance to the Islamic State. The pledge of loyalty, which the group publicized on Monday, has led to fears that the group would broaden its targets beyond the security services.

Egypt’s military and police services have been battered by the militants for more than a year. The attacks started in the months after the military ouster of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first elected president, in July 2013. In its statements, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, whose name translates as Supporters of Jerusalem, has framed its attacks as retaliation for violent abuses by the security services.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killings on Thursday. Security officials said that the police officers and soldiers had been off duty and wearing civilian clothes, but were recognized because of their identity cards. One of the shootings took place outside Rafah, a town bordering the Gaza Strip where the Egyptian military has displaced thousands of people since last month by demolishing houses to deter cross-border smuggling of weapons.

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