Sisi says foreign hands behind Sinai attack

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Sisi says foreign hands behind Sinai attack

Egyptian president vows to take drastic measures to uproot the militants and said Egypt is engaged in an “extensive war” that will last a long time.

By (AP)

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Published: Sat 25 Oct 2014, 7:25 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:43 AM

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi speaks in front of the state-run TV ahead of a military funeral for troops killed in an assault in the Sinai Peninsula. -AP

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi said on Saturday that an assault on an army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 30 troops was a “foreign-funded operation” and vowed to take drastic action against militants.

In thundering remarks delivered before cameras ahead of a military funeral for the slain troops, Sisi said there are foreign powers that want to “break the back of Egypt,” without elaborating. He vowed to take drastic measures to uproot the militants and said Egypt is engaged in an “extensive war” that will last a long time.

“There is a big conspiracy against us,” he said while standing with army commanders ahead of the funeral.

Militants launched a complex assault on the checkpoint on Friday that involved a car bomb possibly detonated by a suicide attacker, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs placed to target rescuers.

Egypt declared a state of emergency and imposed a 5pm to 7am curfew in the restive northern part of the peninsula after Friday’s assault, the deadliest against the army in decades.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of the extremist group Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, which has carried out several attacks on security forces since the military overthrew Mohammed Mursi last year amid massive protests against him.

Al Sisi said the aim of the attack was to “break the will of Egypt and the Egyptians as well as the will of the Egyptian army, which is considered a pillar of Egypt.”

He called on Egyptians “to be aware of what is being hatched against us” and to be “vigilant and steadfast with the army and the police.”

“All that is happening to us is known to us and we expected it and talked about it before July 3,” he said, referring to the day last year when he overthrew Mursi. At the time Sisi was defence minister and army chief.

He claimed some success in the fight against militants, saying “dozens of terrorists have been killed in the past weeks and months... hundreds of terrorists have been liquidated.”

Militants have been battling security forces in Sinai for a decade, but the violence spiked after Mursi’s overthrow. The attacks have also spread to other parts of Egypt, with militants targeting police in Cairo and the Nile Delta.

The militants have portrayed the attacks as retaliation for a sweeping crackdown by security forces in which hundreds of Mursi supporters have been killed in street clashes and some 20,000 people have been arrested.

The government has blamed much of the violence on Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which it blacklisted as a terrorist group last year. The Brotherhood, which renounced violence decades ago, has condemned the attacks and denied any involvement.



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