In the past two days, three residents from Rafah city have been kidnapped by militants who are believed to be members of the militant group “Sinai Province”, a resident from Rafah city told Daily News Egypt on Sunday.
“Hassan Abou Sakrah was kidnapped near his home in El-Maswora, south of Rafah city, on Friday night. His fate is still unknown,” the resident clarified.
Another resident, Ismail Arafat, was kidnapped near his home, which is located in the same area. A third man, Mustafa Abou Farag, was visiting his neighbour in the same area when he was kidnapped too, the resident asserted.
As of recently, militants have been kidnapping North Sinai residents, who they suspect to be “operators” with police and army stationing points in the governorate, on a more and more regular basis. Some of those kidnapped are shot or slaughtered and then left in popular squares in Al-Arish city, according to earlier statements from the Islamic State (IS) which included footage of the kidnapped person being killed.
“The majority of the kidnappings are happening in view of other residents, on streets, or at tribal groupings. Militants penetrate tribal groupings and quietly ask the wanted person to follow them,” a Rafah-based journalist told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity.
“Sinai Province” has apparently been carrying out daily investigations to eliminate army and police collaborators, which accounts for the frequency of these kidnappings.
The journalist added: “Some of the people the group kidnaps are not army collaborators, but they are still investigated by the group. However, even if it is proved that they are not army collaborators, they are still murdered.”
The fate of seven people who were kidnapped remains unknown, including a senior citizen and an imam. Security apparatuses have no information regarding their whereabouts, the journalist said.
On the ground, a non-commissioned police officer was allegedly killed on Saturday night and other two police officers injured in Al-Arish city, according to the IS-affiliated news network Ammaq.
The Interior Ministry has not issued a statement regarding the alleged incident and was unavailable for comment at the time of print.
Several local media outlets reported on Saturday night that security forces in North Sinai carried out a military campaign against “Sinai Province” stationing points south of Al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid cities.
This campaign reportedly resulted in the death of eight militants, in addition to four others in a truck transporting arms, which was used to attack army and police checkpoints.
North Sinai has been a focal point of confrontation between the Egyptian security apparatuses and Islamic militants, of which several claim to be affiliated to IS. Since 2013, following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the militants have launched several deadly attacks against army stationing points.