MidEast

Jihadist Attacks in Sinai Peninsula Spike After Morsi Removal

On Tuesday an attack on a northern Sinai checkpoint killed two and injured six. Later that evening and overnight assailants launched attacks on an airport checkpoint and near an army base. On Wednesday gunmen opened fire on the car of a senior military commander. On Thursday a soldier was killed, reportedly trying to stop smugglers. Today suspected Islamist militants armed with heavy weapons attacked a Sinai Peninsula police checkpoint today, killing one and deepening concerns that the violence could spiral out of control in the increasingly lawless territory.

A spokesperson for the Egyptian army does not think the timings are coincidental:

Egyptian army spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali stressed that “terrorists have escalated their planned operations against the police and armed forces in the Sinai over the last few days. Their aim is to spread chaos and undermine Egyptian national security.”… As soon as the military announced the Islamist president’s ouster and the transitional roadmap, Islamists took to the streets across the Sinai Peninsula to protest the “coup.” Armed Islamists also appeared on the scene to guard the protesters, some of whom were reportedly waving the black flags of the Tawhid wal Jihad group, which claims to be an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

After Friday’s attack, Cairo announced the immediate, indefinite closure of the Rafah crossing that links the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to the Sinai. The army blames Hamas for allowing jihadists to move materials and personnel between Gaza and Egypt, and dozens of Muslim Brotherhood terrorists have reportedly infiltrated just in recent days.

Unconfirmed reports even have an Egyptian helicopter crossing into Israeli-controlled airspace over Gaza in the aftermath of today’s checkpoint attack.

[Photo: Prince Roy / Flickr]