Egypt struggles in Sinai, militant group releases video of October attack
Egypt's most lethal militant group released a video on Friday that appears to show its militants carrying out a car-bomb attack which killed 31 soldiers last month in the Sinai Peninsula near the border with Israel.
The show of force by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM), who in November declared allegiance to militants of the Islamic State (IS), has raised concerns about escalating violence in the border region where an increasingly organised armed insurgency appears to be overwhelming Egyptian forces.
The 9 minute 26 second clip depicts an image of Egyptian army units in disarray; overwhelmed by the heavy weaponry and stealth tactics of the militants.
In the video, a government tank is seen retreating from men carrying bazookas and RPGS. Later, militants shout with delight as they seize heavy weapons from an army base.
Towards the end of the clip Egyptian soldiers are blindfolded and shot in the back of the head.
A man identified as the bomber gives a statement to the camera in Arabic, saying he is delivering a message to Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, from Sinai.
“We will be the swords that cut off your heads,” he says.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has spearheaded an insurgency in the Sinai penninsula since the army overthrew president Mohamed Morsi last year, killing hundreds of policemen and soldiers. But the 24 October attack in which militants rams an explosives-packed car into a military checkpoint in northern Sinai was the deadliest incident in years.
A state of emergency was declared and curfews imposed following the attack.
ABM said of the attack that it was acting in retaliation for a crackdown on Islamist supporters following Morsi's removal from power.
Shortly after the July coup, then army chief, Abdul-Fatah al-Sisi, appealed to ordinary Egyptians to help him combat terrorism. Since he became president however, terrorism appears to have increased, with dozens of attacks in recent months mainly targeting Egyptian soldiers.
For weeks now Egyptian authorities have been demolishing houses and forcibly removing people from the Sinai Peninsula in order to create a buffer zone to combat what it calls terrorism.
The Egyptian government believe the smuggling tunnels from Gaza into Sinai have been used to carry out attacks against the Egyptian military, something Hamas officials have denied.
The Sinai's 300,000 Bedouin face army’s shelling of schools, mass arrests, random shootings and house demolitions echoing Israeli tactics across the border in the Gaza Strip.