Egypt continues crackdown after fresh attacks on posts
Police and gunmen clashed yesterday in the Sinai town of El-Arish, Egyptian TV said after the authorities vowed to crush a surge in militancy, although state news agency MENA denied the report. AP PhotoPolice and gunmen clashed yesterday in the Sinai town of El-Arish, Egyptian TV said after the authorities vowed to crush a surge in militancy, although state news agency MENA denied the report.
The state-owned Nile News television said there were clashes outside a police station in the north Sinai town a day after reported air strikes killed 20 militants in a neighboring village. However, MENA said later that a “security official denied reports that the... police station in El-Arish came under fire,” in an account backed by witnesses who said they did not see or hear any clashes, according to Agence France-Presse. MENA said that a man driving a unlicensed car had fired several shots in the air on the street housing the police station, without aiming at it.
The conflicting reports came a day after security forces launched a campaign to uproot the militants following an attack by gunmen on a guard post near the border with Israel that killed 16 troops. MENA earlier said that Egyptian army has accomplished its task “to restore security by pursuing and targeting armed terrorist elements in Sinai” with complete “success.”
Mohammad Morsi sacks intelligence chief
In the meantime, Egypt’s president fired his intelligence chief Murad Muwafi on Aug. 8 for failing to act on an Israeli warning of an imminent attack days before militants stormed a border post in the Sinai Peninsula and killed 16 soldiers, The Associated Press reported. Before being sacked, Muwafi, himself a former governor of North Sinai, issued a rare public statement saying his agency had forewarned of the weekend attack. But he also said the intelligence did not specify where the attack would take place, and he had passed it on to the “relevant authorities,” adding that his powerful agency’s role was only to collect information.
In a major shake-up, Morsi also asked Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi to replace the commander of the military police, a force that has been heavily used since the ouster 18 months ago of Hosni Mubarak to deal with street protests. Rights activists have accused the military police of brutality against protesters.