Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi made an unannounced visit to the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday to pay tribute to what he called military “heroes” who are standing up to Islamic extremist violence.
Wearing army fatigues for the first time since stepping down as military chief and into the presidency, Sisi told the troops “to say that everything is under control is not enough. The situation is totally stable.”
The Islamic State affiliate in Egypt, calling itself the Sinai Province, is claiming responsibility for most of the recent attacks on soldiers, police and civilians on Sinai. This includes Wednesday’s massive terrorist strikes on Egyptian army checkpoints that reports said killed dozens of soldiers.
The attack, which lasted a whole day and was unprecedented in its size and coordination, also involved multiple suicide bombings and the siege of a main police station with heavy weapons.
The army struck back, killing 100 militants. Sisi said troops were still recovering the bodies.
The attack followed a week of bloodletting that saw Egypt’s prosecutor general assassinated outside his Cairo home by a massive car bomb, and a special forces raid on an apartment that killed nine members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood — the party of former President Mohamed Morsi, whom the military overthrew two years ago in a revolt led by Sisi — responded by calling for a “rebellion,” raising the prospect of a further uptick in violence.
Meanwhile, more violence on Sinai killed at least four civilians Saturday, including a child.
Also Saturday, Sinai Province said it had fired three Grad rockets at Israel a day earlier.
Israel’s military said a rocket was fired into southern Israel on Friday afternoon, hitting an open field but causing no damage or injuries.
Egyptian military and security officials in Sinai have denied any rockets were fired from the restive peninsula.
Combat operations continued in the area late Saturday, with the Egyptian army saying Apache attack helicopters fired missiles at groups of extremists, killing 10 of them.
Some information for this report came from AP.