Egypt army masses troops in tense Sinai

Egypt's army massed troops in Sinai in a campaign to quell increasingly deadly Islamist militants as Bedouin leaders pledged their help in a meeting with the interior minister.

Military trucks carrying dozens of armoured personnel carriers mounted with machine guns on Thursday rolled through the town of El-Arish heading eastwards, where Bedouin Islamist militants have established a presence in villages near the border with Gaza.

The build up came after state television reported that military helicopters and soldiers killed 20 militants on Wednesday in the first such operation in Sinai in decades, in retaliation for a militant ambush that killed 16 soldiers.

Israel said on Thursday it gave Egypt the go ahead to deploy helicopters in Sinai, easing the restrictions on military presence in the peninsula in a 1979 peace treaty between the neighbouring countries.

At a late night meeting with the interior minister Ahmed Gamal al-Din in El-Arish, roughly 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of the Gaza border, Bedouin tribal leaders demanded to see the bodies of the militants reportedly killed on Wednesday.

"We demanded that they present us the bodies, just one or two bodies, so we can be convinced," said Eid Abu Marzuka, one of the Bedouins who took part in the meeting.

Others said they doubted the report, which a military commander in Sinai had confirmed.

The tribal leaders said they had agreed to help the military and police to restore security in the lawless peninsula and close down tunnels used to smuggle contraband and weapons to the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

"There was a consensus among the tribes to destroy the tunnels. Let (the Islamist rulers of Gaza) Hamas be upset, we don't care. Egypt should deal with the Palestinians through the Rafah border crossing," said Marzuka.

"We are against smuggling, and against the siege," he added, referring to the semi-blockade Israel imposed on the enclave after Hamas seized it in 2007.

The interior minister said his forces and the military would defeat the militants with the help of the Bedouin tribes, which have been hostile toward the central government they say marginalises them.

"With the help of the people (of Sinai), the mission will succeed," he told reporters after the meeting.

But another senior security official stationed in Sinai acknowledged that they faced an elusive enemy that had the advantage of the peninsula's formidable mountain and desert terrain.

"It will be gradual," he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to media. "The geography, the desert and mountains, will make this difficult."

Sunday's attack on a border guard outpost in which the militants killed 16 soldiers before commandeering a military vehicle into Israel stunned the government and prompted President Mohamed Morsi to sack his intelligence chief and two army generals.

The military said the militants were supported by mortar fire from Gaza during the raid.

After his inauguation on June 30, Morsi has moved to alleviate restrictions on the border crossing with Gaza and met Gaza leader Ismail Haniya. Egypt shut the crossing after Sunday's attack.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral
    China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral

    China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top US Navy admiral told US lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR
    Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR

    Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to consider a proposed special tax exemption for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in his much-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday it will have to be discussed by Congress because lawmakers are the ones who enact tax exemptions, special or general. Pacquiao has been dogged by unsettled tax obligations with the BIR. …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options