Cairo- Eight policemen and one civilian have been killed in clashes with terrorists that carried out simultaneous attacks on two checkpoints in the northern Sinai city of al-Arish, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said.
Witnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat that a huge blast was heard on Monday before the armed attack on El-Matafe checkpoint where rocket-propelled grenades were fired. A group of 20-30 armed members carried out the attack and then raised their flags at the checkpoint.
A security source said that a booby-trapped garbage truck, which was stolen by attackers days ago, targeted El-Matafe checkpoint. Security forces then defied the attack and killed a number of terrorists.
The assault coincided with another one on Al-Masaed checkpoint, stated the ministry. “Security forces came under heavy fire but they confronted attackers and forced them to flee,” added the ministry.
No party claimed responsibility for the attack although Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has previously adopted such assaults.
During the past years, hundreds of policemen and army soldiers were killed by similar assaults.
A political activist in al-Arish told Asharq Al-Awsat that “security officials should be on alert because a high number of checkpoints does not necessarily mean stable security – we, Arish residents, endure the inspection burden on checkpoints, but what for?”
Since 2014, a state of emergency has been declared in certain areas of north Sinai as well as an embargo.
Spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Roman Nadal condemned the terrorist attack, reiterating France’s support to Egypt in its fight against terrorism, and offered condolences to the victims’ families, wishing the injured speedy recovery.
Also, the Tunisian Foreign Ministry denounced the attack, describing it as a criminal act. In its statement, the ministry stressed “full support to Egypt and the Egyptian government’s efforts against terrorism.”