At least six police officers were killed by a roadside bomb in northern Sinai earlier today, with the finger of blame initially pointed at the al Qaeda-backed group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
The attack comes as a reminder that Israel is surrounded by Sunni Islamist threats, not just from Gaza and Syria.
Police and military sites and personnel have been a target for militant jihadists in north Sinai as authorities continue to fight an Islamist insurgency in the tumultuous peninsula. Eleven security personnel and four others were injured in an IED attack in the same area earlier this month.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry issued a statement confirming the attack:
An explosive device went off near one of the APCs (armoured personnel carriers) of a joint police and army security convoy on the road between El-Arish and Rafah, killing six policemen including an officer and wounding two others.
Numerous groups operate in the Sinai, with some of them flitting between Sinai and the Gaza Strip – launching attacks against Israel from both territories.
Some security experts believe that when Hamas and other Gaza-based terror organizations declare a truce in the Palestinian coastal enclave, they move to the Sinai trying to carry out attacks from Egyptian soil.
However, the threat posed by Islamists in Sinai is not just against Israel but perhaps even more so against Cairo. Egyptian personnel are being targeted despite a claim earlier this year that “the Egyptian army has fully succeeded in controlling the Sinai Peninsula.”
Now there is another worrying trend with which the Egyptian security authorities have to contend. Last week it was reported that ISIS is training members of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. Recent reports of beheadings in the northern Sinai suggest that Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is adopting ISIS’ methods, if not its tactics.
[Photo: Gigi Ibrahim / Wiki Commons]