Advertisement
VICE News

Egypt's President Says Sinai Is 'Under Control' Just as Islamic State Bombs a Police Hangout

A suicide bomber rammed a car laden with explosives into a police club in the provincial capital of Al Arish, destroying the facade and several nearby cars while killing at least six people.

by VICE News
Nov 4 2015, 4:25pm

Photo by Mohammed Abu Eta/EPA

Just hours after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi remarked in a BBC interview that the "the situation in Sinai... is under our full control," Islamic State militants launched a suicide attack against a police station in the restive peninsula. 

According to the state news agency MENA, the suicide bomber rammed a car laden with explosives into a police recreational facility in the provincial capital of Al Arish, destroying the facade and several nearby cars. At least six people were killed and another 10 wounded. The Islamic State released a statement justifying the attack against what it called an "apostate government" that it accused of "arresting tribal women."

Sisi had affirmed his government's authority over the region following claims from the Islamic State that it was responsible for the crash of Kogalymavia Flight 9268, which killed 224 people on board.

"When there is propaganda that it crashed because of ISIS, this is one way to damage the stability and security of Egypt and the image of Egypt," he said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State.

The Egyptian central government has long struggled to maintain control over the Sinai. After the Egyptian military overthrew the elected government of Mohamed Morsi in 2013, militants in the peninsula stepped up their attacks on government installations. 

In November, 2014, the local militant group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and intensified its insurgency. The group sent emissaries to Syria and adopted Islamic State tactics like suicide car bombs.

Related: Egypt's Military Is Killing Civilians in Its 'War on Terror'

Over the past summer, the Egyptian military launched a massive military mobilization in the peninsula to regain control of the region and push back militants. The death toll on both sides is nearly impossible to verify, since journalism is all but prohibited in the region, but the Egyptian government claims militants have killed hundreds of police officers and military personnel.

While it's illegal in Egypt to criticize the military's counter-terrorism operations, foreign human rights groups have voiced concerns over the military's tactics. A recent report from Human Rights Watch found that 3,200 families have been evicted from their homes over the past two years by the army.  And an investigation by VICE News last month found widespread indiscriminate killing of civilians throughout the counter-terrorism campaign.