Egypt’s North Sinai is, for all intents and purposes, a war zone as of today, after Egyptian security forces – from both the army and police – have engaged with masked gunmen in several different areas in the early hours of Wednesday, a few hours after unknown masked gunmen had opened fire on three joint military-police checkpoints, according to Al Ahram
In many checkpoints, especially in the city of Al Arish, there were fire exchanges, as Egyptian troops and helicopters are combing the eastern area of El-Halal Mountain, hunting down masked gunmen.
According to eyewitnesses quoted by Al-Ahram, many gunmen were killed and injured in the raids, and several soldiers were injured as well. There are no exact tolls as of now.
Eyewitnesses also said Egyptian military jets have been pounding several spots in the Sheikh Zuweid town while chasing the terrorists.
Late Tuesday night, masked gunmen attacked three joint military-police checkpoints in North Sinai, two days after 16 border guards had been killed by unidentified assailants in an incident that has left the Sinai Peninsula in a state of chaos.
A civilian resident in Al-Arish City was caught in the line of fire and injured as the gunmen attacked Al-Risa checkpoint and two others on the main road between Al-Arish and Rafah, the city that was at the center of Sunday’s deadly attacks on Egyptian border guards.
The fire exchange lasted until the early hours of Wednesday, before military and police armored vehicles appeared in the area in an attempt to contain the situation.
Al Ahram noted that this is the 29th attack on Al-Risa checkpoint since the 2011 uprising that overthrew former president Hosni Mubarak. The Sinai has sunk into a state of lawlessness since then.
Many parties have traded accusations over the deadly attack that took place near the Gaza strip, which is governed by Islamist faction Hamas. No one has claimed responsibility yet for the terrorist operation.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Egypt President Mohamed Morsi hails, has accused Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad of carrying out the attack to “hinder Egypt’s progress.”
Hamas and Israel have both distanced themselves from the attack, with Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak saying he hoped it would serve as a “wake-up call” to Egypt, which has been slow to control the Sinai.