Sisi calls on military chief to secure Sinai
CAIRO - Reuters
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Nov. 29 ordered his military command to use all force necessary to secure the Sinai peninsula within the next three months following a militant attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people.
No group has claimed responsibility for last week’s attack in which authorities say gunmen carrying an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) flag opened fire after setting off an explosive. It was the worst militant attack in Egypt’s modern history.
Egyptian forces have battled an ISIL affiliate for several years in North Sinai, where militants have killed hundreds of police and soldiers.
“It is your responsibility to secure and stabilise Sinai within the next three months,” Sisi said addressing his new chief of staff in a speech that gave no details on any operations. “You can use all brute force necessary.”
ISIL’s Wilayat Sinai branch has claimed some of the most deadly attacks in Egypt. The group was made up in 2014 of former fighters of a local jihadist group and has staged raids on the security forces for more than three years.
Sinai has become one of ISIL’s last holdouts after military defeats in Iraq and Syria.
Clearing militants from North Sinai, a desert area stretching from the Suez Canal eastwards to the Gaza Strip and Israel, has been a difficult task for Egypt’s army, which is more used to conventional warfare than counter-insurgency.
The military has carried out air strikes and bulldozed homes to clear an area near the Gaza border to destroy tunnels. The Arab League plans to hold an emergency meeting on Dec. 5 to discuss the attack, MENA state news agency said.