Egypt’s military deployed to Sinai to defend from potential terror attacks
“More than 2000 policemen and several military armored vehicles were stationed around security premises in North Sinai’s Arish city,” the sources said.
“The security deployment is for defense purposes only,” said Abdel Wahad Mabrouk, the governor of North Sinai. “We are not chasing anyone in Sinai’s mountains,” Mabrouk added, referring to the peninsula’s caves, which have been traditionally used as special hideouts for Bedouin smugglers and Islamist militants.
On Thursday, the American television station CNN reported that Egyptian authorities were preparing to launch an operation against Al-Qaeda cells that had recently been established in Sinai.
“Al-Qaeda is present in Sinai, mainly in the area of Sakaska, close to Rafah,” a general in Egypt’s intelligence service was quoted as telling CNN on Thursday. “They have been training there for months, but we have not identified their nationalities yet.”
Secretary General for North Sinai Governorate Gaber al-Araby said that units from the Second Infantry Division, with support from general security and border guards, would take part in the operation, according to CNN.
On 2 August, a group identifying itself as Al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula issued a statement calling for the establishment of an Islamic emirate in Sinai, for Sharia to be the only source of legislation, and for the armed forces to scrap Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel.
Four days earlier, violent clashes had broken out between assailants from a radical religious group and security forces at a police station in Arish. The fighting left two officers and five civilians dead, as well as 20 injured.
The new leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, welcomed in an audio message this week “the heroes who blew up the gas pipeline to Israel,” referring to the four attacks on the Egyptian-Israeli gas pipeline that have taken place since the beginning of 2011.