As part of the ongoing sweeping operations conducted by the second field army in different parts of North Sinai following the massive exodus of Coptic families from Al-Arish city, Sunday’s operations resulted in the death of four militants, according to a statement issued on Monday by the army spokesperson.
The military operations also led to the arrest of a further 22 militants, the destruction of three of their stationing points, and the seizure of two motorbikes that were used by militants in launching attacks against army and security checkpoints.
However, the city of Al-Arish, which occupied the news headlines during the last week, is still witnessing the presence of militants who are believed to be members of the IS affiliated group of ‘Sinai Province.’
On Sunday the militants opened a checkpoint in central Al-Arish, where they stopped many pedestrians and checked their IDs. Moreover, they kidnapped two citizens from the city, a North Sinai-based journalist told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity.
“Five militants, who are believed to be members of ‘Sinai Province,’ practiced a type of Islamic police authority when they created a checkpoint inside [El Faaleh] Square in the centre of Al-Arish city. The checkpoint lasted for nearly 30 minutes before they left—after kidnapping two citizens over charges of cooperation with security apparatuses and following the arrival of police forces,” he said.
They created such checkpoint to prove their presence in the city; however, once police forces arrived, they fled the scenes. Also, the checkpoint was aiming to target Coptic residents, as the militants were checking the pedestrians’ IDs, he added.
Moreover, the city of Al-Arish witnessed violent clashes and shootings between security forces and the militants in the aftermath of an abrupt attack conducted against a police checkpoint named ‘El Mostashfa El Khairy’ [translated as Charity Hospital] that is located inside the ‘Fawkharyia’ suburb.
The attack was foiled after security forces engaged in fierce clashes with the militants in the surroundings of the checkpoint after the militants launched a rocket-propelled grenade towards it. However, the clashes led to no injuries or deaths as the militants fled the scene, according to the local journalist who quoted eyewitnesses.
Similarly, state-run newspaper Akhbar Al Youm reported on Monday that a non-commissioned police officer was injured in North Sinai after being shot by a sniper while walking in front of a police station.
Reda Soliman, who is affiliated to the police forces of Al-Arish’s second police station, has been transferred to Al-Arish Military to receive treatment, the state-run newspaper added.
Since 2013, state security forces represented by both the army and the police, have been engaged in violent clashes with ‘Sinai Province’, known previously as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. In 2014, the group declared its affiliation to IS and has launched deadly attacks on army and police checkpoints.
Over the course of the last two years, the Egyptian armed forces launched counterattacks against militant stationing points across the Sinai Peninsula, where the group is based, particularly in the cities of Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, and Al-Arish.