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Scores killed as militants attack Egyptian troops in Sinai

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Scores killed as militants attack Egyptian troops in Sinai
ASHRAF SWEILAM, Associated Press
BRIAN ROHAN, Associated Press

EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — Islamic State-linked militants struck Egyptian army outposts in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday in a coordinated wave of suicide bombings and battles that underlined the government's failure to stem an insurgency despite a two-year crackdown. Security officials said dozens of troops were killed, along with nearly 100 attackers.

The restive territory's deadliest fighting in decades followed the assassination of Egypt's chief prosecutor and a vow by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to step up the legal battle against Islamic militants.

Later Wednesday, a special forces team raided a Cairo apartment and killed nine fugitive members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, including a former member of parliament, security officials said.

The Brotherhood responded by calling for a rebellion against el-Sissi, saying the nine were "murdered in cold blood."

Authorities and pro-government media have blamed Egypt's recent violence on the Brotherhood, which has been branded a terrorist group, as well as other supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. The Brotherhood denies involvement.

The new bloodshed also came as Egypt was marking the second anniversary of the events that led to the July 3, 2013, military-led overthrow of Morsi, although the celebrations were muted by Monday's killing of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat and fears of unrest by the former president's supporters.

Militants in northern Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip, stepped up their attacks following Morsi's fall. Last year, the main insurgent organization operating in Sinai pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, calling itself Sinai Province.

The coordinated Sinai assault focused on the town of Sheikh Zuweid and targeted at least six military checkpoints, security officials said. The militants also took soldiers captive and seized weapons and several armored vehicles, they added, speaking on condition of anonymity because regulations did not authorize briefing the media.

Scores of militants besieged Sheikh Zuweid's main police station, shelling it with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades and exchanging fire with dozens of police inside in an attack that lasted most of the day, the officials added.

As fighting raged, an Apache helicopter gunship destroyed one of the armored carriers captured by the militants, they added. Warplanes also roared through the skies.

The officials gave a death toll of 64 soldiers, 90 militants and four civilians. It was the biggest battle in the Sinai since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. At least 55 soldiers were wounded, they said.

Other security officials put the number of soldiers killed at more than 50, but did not give a precise figure.

In a statement on state television, the military said 17 soldiers had died, with 13 wounded, while at least 100 "terrorist supporters" had been killed.

The conflicting totals could not immediately be reconciled, and discrepancies are common following such attacks.

Military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir said that the country's armed forces targeted and destroyed two militant gatherings in northern Sinai.

The territory, characterized by hardscrabble towns, desert and mountainous areas suitable for guerrilla operations, has long been neglected by the government. Local Bedouin tribesmen have grown to resent Cairo, turning to smuggling, organized crime and, in some cases, radical Islam.

The sustained attack — the first of its kind — suggested the militants have ambitions to seize an entire city.

The Islamic State affiliate that calls itself Sinai Province claimed its fighters targeted 15 army and police positions and staged three suicide bombings, two that targeted checkpoints and one that hit an officers' club in the nearby city of el-Arish. The authenticity of the claim could not be immediately verified but it was posted on a Facebook page associated with the group.

Army checkpoints in the area are routinely staffed by 50-60 soldiers.

An Associated Press reporter heard two explosions from the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza and saw smoke rising, though it was not immediately clear what caused the blasts or if they were linked to the militant assault some 40 kilometers (25 miles) away.

Last week, Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani issued an audio statement calling for massive attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, now entering its third week.

The United States condemned the assault as a terrorist attack, with White House spokesman Ned Price saying that the U.S. "stands resolutely" with Egypt and will continue to work with Cairo to address threats to its security.

The planning and coordinated execution of the Sinai attack shows the insurgency in the area is growing stronger, especially since Morsi's ouster and the crackdown on Islamic militants. They have been battling Egyptian security forces in the northern Sinai for more than a decade, despite military reinforcements, strict curfews and the destruction of homes and tunnels along the border with Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The insurgency also poses a serious threat to Egypt's security as the military-backed government struggles to restore stability after years of unrest since the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

"This specific attack is by far the worst we've ever seen," said Daniel Nisman, CEO for the Levantine Group risk consultancy. "It's not a hit-and-run — this is what they used in places like Syria and Iraq to actually capture and hold territory."

Nisman said the attack revealed the weaknesses of the military's "scorched earth" operations in the northern Sinai, which he says have made it difficult for an army that is "very, very overstretched" from multiple missions and struggles to recruit support among the local population.

In the Cairo raid, the Interior Ministry said that the nine Brotherhood members who were killed had been plotting attacks on the police, the judiciary and the media.

Three special forces members were wounded in the operation, the ministry said in a statement.

In addition to weapons, investigators found 43,000 Egyptian pounds ($5,630), along with documents and memory cards, and the information seized would be used in the investigation into Monday's killing of Barakat, the prosecutor general.

State TV showed images of the apartment after the raid, with bloodied bodies on the floor with several Kalashnikov assault rifles near their hands.

One of the dead was Nasr al-Hafi, a former deputy in the lower house of parliament for the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party, while the other was a Brotherhood leader, Abdel-Fattah Mohamed Ibrahim.

The Brotherhood said the men were innocents who supported families of slain and arrested members, calling el-Sissi a "butcher."

"Come out in rebellion and in defense of your country, yourselves and your children," it said in a statement issued in English. It called the killings "a turning point that will have its own repercussions," adding that "it will not be possible to control the anger of the oppressed."

At Barakat's funeral, el-Sissi had pledged to bring his killers to justice. He signaled an even tougher campaign against the Brotherhood.

Since Morsi's ouster, Egypt has arrested thousands of Islamists and other dissidents, convicting hundreds in collective trials and issuing mass death sentences, with Barakat overseeing the prosecution of many of the cases. Morsi is among those condemned to die, but an appeals process remains ahead of him.
___

Rohan reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Hamza Hendawi in Beirut, Merrit Kennedy in Cairo, and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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-- (c) Associated Press 2015-07-02

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ISIS is taking on the formidable Egyptian army,,, and Army and a president that not bound by BDS

like criticisms of disproportional force applied, they will kill as many ISIS fighters, their supporters

and their families and their dogs with out to bat an eye lead, Al Sisi, the president already hinted that he

blame the Muslim brothers, his arch nemesis.... and so the killing continue....

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The insurgents in the Sinai are supplied from Gaza. This is the reason why Egypt had destroyed the tunnels.

The day may come when Egypt will take back and pacify Gaza.

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of course, this is a bigger deal than what is reported and may be bait.

Israel will not tolerate extremists on its borders, and I'm sure Israel has no quips about occupying the peninsula again. hell some of the ones that remember would love to have those long golden beaches back to work on their respective tans while picking up Ruskie and Italian tourists.

There is no interest for Egypt in attempting attack on Gaza, history shows that Jordanians and egyptians treated Palestinians with equal contempt to the Israelis. They are unmanegable and there is little of economic interest, more a problem for the next occupier. The only driver would be face, however loss of face may still be a temptation, but the economic realitites are more important.

the body of water allowing smaller ships through the peninsula to the red sea is an important revenue, one which does not rely on its biggest income the equally <deleted> tourist trade with many huyndreds of years of tourist fleecing experience. The man on the street could not give a shit about extremeists and infadels, he wants to visit his family in the next province, or work somewhere more profitable, or visit another coutnry. yeah the extremists find the ripest fruits to pick in the fomr of repressed boys in a highly conservative culture, boys and girls with little to hope for when repressed, but

Egypt has little interest in encouragin anything that will disrupt its current stability and increasing resource based indsutries such as chemicals etc.

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Good luck to Egypt.clap2.gif

I am sorely missing screams of traditional haters of IDF here about

excessive use of force

civilian casualties

destroyed mosques

disrupted schooling

and a casual totally innocent goat.

The vindictive good for nothing UN is also unusually quiet. coffee1.gif

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The insurgents in the Sinai are supplied from Gaza. This is the reason why Egypt had destroyed the tunnels.

The day may come when Egypt will take back and pacify Gaza.

And you know this how?

Do you have links to prove it?

If the Egyptians destroyed the tunnels to stop weapons being shipped from Gaza, how did the weapons get into Gaza in the first place considering that both the Israelis AND the Egyptians are blockading Gaza?

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The insurgents in the Sinai are supplied from Gaza. This is the reason why Egypt had destroyed the tunnels.

The day may come when Egypt will take back and pacify Gaza.

Actually it would have been a perfect solution for Israelis.

One state is not a solution -

Israel stops being a Jewish state.

Two states is not a solution -

Gaza presents so many problems even as it is now.

Egypt taking over Gaza, absorbs present Gaza Arabs easily considering its huge population and 'BINGO!'

Israelis end up again with a ruly, predictable and controlled state at its border. This is easier to live with.

And I do not think Egyptians will be dreaming every night about a revenge war against Israel.

As to Gaza Arabs - they could use their digging skills to dig for oil or water and find a solution for their obesity problem...

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The insurgents in the Sinai are supplied from Gaza. This is the reason why Egypt had destroyed the tunnels.

The day may come when Egypt will take back and pacify Gaza.

Actually it would have been a perfect solution for Israelis.

One state is not a solution -

Israel stops being a Jewish state.

Two states is not a solution -

Gaza presents so many problems even as it is now.

Egypt taking over Gaza, absorbs present Gaza Arabs easily considering its huge population and 'BINGO!'

Israelis end up again with a ruly, predictable and controlled state at its border. This is easier to live with.

And I do not think Egyptians will be dreaming every night about a revenge war against Israel.

As to Gaza Arabs - they could use their digging skills to dig for oil or water and find a solution for their obesity problem...

 

I think Egypt would find Gaza unmanageable and would begin to find Cairo getting bombed. the Palestinians will not take anyone owning their land. Gaza is Palestinian. They can not and will not be absorbed into Egypt. not a chance. their is not bingo solution. no Palestinians can be absorbed because they remain refugees always occupied by some force be it Jordan Egypt, etc etc.

even today the refugees still shuttled around the ME in different airlines between countries, not wanted by other Arab states.

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Good luck to Egypt.clap2.gif

I am sorely missing screams of traditional haters of IDF here about

excessive use of force

civilian casualties

destroyed mosques

disrupted schooling

and a casual totally innocent goat.

The vindictive good for nothing UN is also unusually quiet. coffee1.gif

 

the kids that are the meat and muscle of the idf are not stupid. The majority are not interested in force against anyone, pretty sure tehy get pissed off with getting told what to do, having your in the army now song played at high volume at the intake, etc before they go for the escape. many refusniks

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I think Egypt would find Gaza unmanageable and would begin to find Cairo getting bombed. the Palestinians will not take anyone owning their land. Gaza is Palestinian. They can not and will not be absorbed into Egypt. not a chance. their is not bingo solution. no Palestinians can be absorbed because they remain refugees always occupied by some force be it Jordan Egypt, etc etc.

the kids that are the meat and muscle of the idf are not stupid. The majority are not interested in force against anyone, pretty sure tehy get pissed off with getting told what to do, having your in the army now song played at high volume at the intake, etc before they go for the escape. many refusniks

Your depth of knowledge of both Nations -

Jewish "kids that are the meat and muscle of the IDF" who go into hiding from service and become "refusniks" on one side

and "Palestinians" - fierce warriors ready to bomb Cairo and never accepting anybody owning "their own" land despite being perpetual refugees -

is at odds not with my views only, but with logic.

Besides said above you are probably talking about their 'absorption' the European way. I was thinking more about their brothers Arabs way of 'absorption' - an offer one can't refuse type.

Funny, - the more I am arguing with you the more I like Egyptians...

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no, you misunderstand, I mean on one side you have Palestinians who want own country. not occupiers. they will bomb any that occupy, it does not matter who it is they have their own country. It would be worng to give up sovereignty to others. Progressive yeah, they want to study, live enhoy technology and all other things you and I take for granted.

Israel - yeah kid soldiers , you ever seen a 17 year with gun dragging on pavement becasue its too long and little teddy bear on backpack. they are kids, and the majority I ever met would not choose to be doing it. and its usually the older people who have the poison. the older ones who've lived with it so long become preachers of hate etc and the ultra religious are the worst.

bigots on both sides, but Egypt is no cure for Palestinians. They can't be absorbed by other nations, who would finance it? would they be treated equally? would they accept it? No to all

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Such a beautiful part of the world. Sad to do the drive along the coast and see mile after mile of abandoned resorts.

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Such a beautiful part of the world. Sad to do the drive along the coast and see mile after mile of abandoned resorts.

Sorry, craig3365, I feel a bit different.

I did a lot of travelling in due time. And my personal feeling when driving along Israel country roads - what a desolate, hopeless, arid and good for nothing piece of land.

This is only true until one sees what an unbelievable Paradise those Jews have turned it into at some places. Really made me want to take my hat off!

I am still thinking that if their God gave them this land - it was because nobody else would want it the way it was.

And if one day the Arabs would take it back - it would go back to a desolate place barely supporting a mirage of a camel.

Am I correct assuming that talking about miles of abandoned resorts - you are talking about Gaza? This piece I didn't see...

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I'm guessing that he was referring to everything North of Nuweiba in Egypt Sinai. Countless buildings were built along it enroute to Taba, but most have been left to decay these days.

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The insurgents in the Sinai are supplied from Gaza. This is the reason why Egypt had destroyed the tunnels.

The day may come when Egypt will take back and pacify Gaza.

Where is your proof? Links please. You are just making it up. Egypt has thousands of miles of porous borders and coastline...much easier to sneak weapons and personnel in there than right under the nose of Egyptian and Israeli security on the Gaza border. But you are oh so ready to blame Hamas.
Read the OP first line: Islamic State-linked militants struck Egyptian army outposts in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday
Hamas is the sworn enemy of IS...they kill Palestinian refugees and want to usurp Hamas. I think IS is barbaric too.
If IS fire rockets at Israel, Hamas gets the blame
If IS fire rockets at Egypt, Hamas gets the blame
But all very convenient for you to spin this into a Hamas bashing exercise. And heavens knows why one Israeli apologist is even trying to drag BDS into this, and another regurgitating the ridiculous old myth that Zionists made the desert bloom ...and the height of the incredible...that Gazans are somehow incapable of enjoying the beach. Nonsensical propaganda and nothing to do with OP.
IS is right across the border from Egypt in Libya and Sudan...and other parts of sub Saharan Africa. I think IS have their own agenda with Sisi. Nothing to do with the Palestinians. Don't be so fixated and quick to point the finger with Hamas and Gaza.

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