By Nasser al-Azazi
Recent claims made by news outlets that those responsible for the Rafah massacre, which left 26 soldiers dead, had been arrested are false, according to security sources within Northern Sinai.
These sources rejected claims made by a number of news outlets that a group of Palestinians and three Egyptians had been arrested in connection with the Rafah massacre. They did say however that security forces had stepped up their campaign to track down armed assailants, engaging in a number of security raids throughout the region.
They further affirmed claims that they had arrested six individuals in connection with other attacks throughout Sinai, including one Palestinian living in Al-Arish.
The accused Palestinian was arrested on charges of attacking a security checkpoint located in front of a National Bank of Egypt branch in Al-Arish. Five Egyptians were also arrested on charges of attacking Civil Protection headquarters and a number of police checkpoints.
One of the five Egyptians was also accused of taking part in the killing two months ago of Muhammad Hani Muftash, Public Security General of North Sinai. Two of the accused are also being investigated for their involvement in attacks on police headquarters.
Some of the accused are currently being held in a series of security headquarters locations in Al-Arish, while others have been transported to local agencies in Cairo for questioning regarding other crimes committed in Sinai against civilians, police and security forces, in addition to attacks on public facilities and institutions.
An American citizen was arrested in Sheikh Zuweid Tuesday, and has been brought before the military prosecutor in Ismailia for investigation. He was identified as James Henry, 55, a retired general in the US armed forces. He was apprehended while in possession of a number of maps and documents, and stated during investigations that he was on his way to the Gaza Strip.
Eye witnesses said the armed forces conducted a raid on the house of Omar Gowda, previous mayor of Al-Arish during the reign of former president Mohamed Morsi. Security forces were unsuccessful in arresting him as he was not present in his home during the raid.
Security sources reported an unsuccessful suicide bombing attempt at the Sheikh Zuweid police station on Tuesday, after an unknown attacker drove a car filled with explosives into the station’s gate. The attack did not lead to any additional casualties however, as the station’s steel gates prevented the blast from reaching the premises of the station itself.