Turkey condemned Monday the “terror” bombings in Egypt’s North Sinai Peninsula that left at least 15 people dead and 20 injured.
Six military personnel were killed and two others injured in a car bomb in the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid on Sunday morning. The North Sinai-based militant group,‘State of Sinai’, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Later on Sunday, a car bomb exploded at a military checkpoint in Al-Arish killing five policemen. A North Sinai resident told Daily News Egypt that the explosion left at least 20 civilians injured, while six other civilians were left dead. Several residential homes were also destroyed in the attack.
“We ask for God’s mercy for the deceased, express our condolences to their families and wish speedy recovery for the wounded,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement.
The statement added that Turkey “will maintain its solidarity with the brotherly people of Egypt”.
Turkey has, however, also repeatedly criticised the Egyptian government and its conduct.
In the ensuing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood following President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rise to power, Turkey has emerged as a sympathiser to the now outlawed group. The two countries have been exchanging accusations since former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in July 2013.
On Sunday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry had strongly condemned the sentences handed out in the ‘Operation Room’ case, in which 14 were sentenced to death and 37 to life imprisonment. It said the sentences “constitute the latest instance of sentencing following politically motivated trials conducted in Egypt since July 2013”.
In response, Egypt has strongly condemned Turkey’s “interference” in Egypt’s judicial affairs.
Egyptian media looks upon Turkey as a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been listed as a “terrorist organisation” since December 2013.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has commented upon Egypt’s internal situation on several occasions, and in February 2014 said that Turkey would not recognise the Egyptian interim authorities. He said it was “a regime that has undertaken a military coup”, calling then-Minister of Defence Al-Sisi, a “coup maker”.
Egypt, in turn, responded to Turkey’s statements by accusing Erdogan of spreading lies and of his country’s “flagrant intervention” in Egypt’s internal affairs. In November, both countries expelled each others’ ambassadors, officially downgrading diplomatic ties between the nations.
Economic ties have also become strained between the two countries.
In October, the Egyptian government decided not to renew the RO-RO agreement that it had with the Turkish government concerning the use of Egyptian ports. The agreement, which ended in April, was established in 2012, during Mohamed Morsi’s regime, to help transport Egyptian exports to east Europe and for Turkish exports to pass through Egypt to Gulf Arab countries.