Four security-forces conscripts killed in central Sinai gunfight

Four conscripts from North Sinai's security forces were killed in an exchange of gun fire in central Sinai on Sunday, the latest in a series of deadly attacks by insurgents over the past few years.

Eyewitnesses and other sources said that security forces manning a checkpoint in the Qasima area were fired upon by unidentified attackers, with four conscripts killed in the resulting exchange of fire. More security personnel have been deployed to the area to search for the attackers.

Egyptian military and security forces have been battling a mounting insurgency in Sinai since the removal of former President Mohamed Morsi in June 2013. Militants linked to the Islamic State terrorist group frequently conduct ambushes, mortar attacks and roadside bombs in the North Sinai governorate.

In one of the largest single attacks, at least 15 police personnel were killed in an assault on a checkpoint in Arish, North Sinai. According to news reports, the attack was initiated by a car bomb at the checkpoint, followed by mortar fire. Militants from the Sinai Province terrorist group, which is affiliated to Islamic State, later claimed responsibility.

In a typical attack, militants will detonate explosives and then fire on ambulance crews when they arrive to treat the casualties.

In a raid on a terrorist camp in late March, Egyptian armed forces captured a store of explosives in the area of Halal mountain, North Sinai.

In a statement on Facebook, Military Spokesperson Mohamed Samir said, “Troops from the Third Field Army seized a store of explosives north of Halal mountain. Four sacks of TNT materials weighing 90 kilograms were found, in addition to two sacks of C4 substance weighing 200 kilograms, three sacks of chloride weighing 60 kilograms.”

In January, Egypt’s parliament approved a presidential decree to extend the state of emergency and partial curfew in Sinai by three months, starting January 27.

As part of the emergency, curfews are imposed in some regions in the restive peninsula, mostly located in North Sinai and along the borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The emergency was first imposed in October 2014, following a deadly attack on an army checkpoint that left 33 soldiers dead. The emergency has been extended several times since then.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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