Four policemen were killed in an ambush on a private car near the city of Beer Al-Abd in North Sinai, after the military announced the killing of five militants in central Sinai, according to tribal sources.
The four policemen, an officer, a lower-ranking officer, and 2 conscripts, were part of the North Sinai Directorate. The car they were in reportedly belonged to the police officer.
State media reported that the militants ordered the policemen to exit the car and then executed them before fleeing the scene. The Ministry of Interior is yet to release a statement on the incident, and also no militant group has declared responsibility of the attack. Local media has mentioned that security forces have blocked some roads leading to the crime scene and intensified their presence in the area.
The most active group in the area is the Sinai Province, an affiliate to the extremist Islamic State (IS) group.
Although large scale attacks by Sinai Province have decreased, with the exception of the 3 July attack in Rafah, which killed and injured 26 army personnel, the group’s attacks have been mainly shootings, IED attacks, ambushes, and assassinations.
Wednesday’s ambush took place hours after the military spokesperson announced that five militants were killed in a raid that targeted a group of extremists in central Sinai, while three others were arrested. The identities and exact charges of the dead and arrested suspects were not announced by the spokesperson.
Near the end of July, the military said that clashes between army forces and militants at several outposts in southern Rafah killed around 40 militants and led to the destruction of six cars used by militants in the attack. During the last National Youth Conference, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said that operations against militants are still ongoing.
After Wednesday’s attack, tribal sources, however, feared that the forces might retaliate against some of the citizens. He added that they are in assistance of the army and police whenever they are needed. Since last February, some tribes are assisting the military in security operations in the area.
Over the last three years, the Egyptian armed forces have launched counterattacks against militants’ stationing points across the Sinai Peninsula, where the group is based in the cities of Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, and Al-Arish.
A state of emergency in North Sinai was first declared in 2013 by then-interim president Adly Mansour, who came into power following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. It has been extended following this year’s extremist attacks on Coptic churches during Palm Sunday.
North Sinai witnessed a reshuffling in the security ranks of its police apparatus. The new security directorate is General Reda Swilliam, a veteran police officer and former high-ranking investigation bureau office in the area, between 2005 and 2008.