As in a reflex act, usually, in the hours after each attack, the Egyptian security forces have held three raids this Saturday against alleged terrorist hideouts that ended with the death of 40 alleged militants, according to a statement from the Ministry of the Interior. The anti-terrorist action came after an attack on Friday against a tourist bus that killed the lives of three Vietnamese visitors and their Egyptian tour guide.
Two of the raids took place in the province of Giza, the scene of the terrorist attack on Friday, and the third took place in the north of the Sinai Peninsula, the fiefdom of a tenacious jihadist insurgency led by Wilaya Sina, the regional branch of the self-styled Islamic State.
No group has assumed responsibility for the attack, but all indications are that it would be ISIS, the only one that has so far attacked tourist interests in Egypt. The militants had been preparing attacks to be committed during the Christmas celebrations, which the Coptic Orthodox Christian minority celebrated on January 6.
According to the statement, whose veracity is difficult to determine in a country where a law punishes with prison sentences the fact of offering a version of an attack different from the official , 14 alleged terrorists have been killed in the city of the Six of October, located in the outskirts of Cairo, and another 16 in the Baharia Desert, more than 300 kilometers southwest of the capital. The remaining 10 have died in the city of al-Arish, located north of the province of Sinai and the usual scenario of terrorist attacks.
In its public note, Interior has not offered any information about the identity or affiliation of the terrorists or if there is any link to the attack on Friday but the discovery of large quantities of weapons, ammunition and material to prepare was made public.
Explosives “The national security sector had information on the preparation of a series of terrorist attacks against state institutions, especially the economy, the tourist industry, the armed forces, the police and Christian temples,” the note read. During the past two years, the Coptic Christian minority has been the victim of several massacres perpetrated by ISIS.
The fact that after each serious attack the Egyptian security forces carry out operations that result in the death of several “terrorists”, without making any arrests or suffering any loss, has raised the suspicions of the defence groups of the human rights. Sometimes, the authorities even claim that the killed militiamen were responsible for the attack, which would imply success in a record time of a complex investigation. “Both the police and the army have a history of extrajudicial executions,” explains Hussein Baoumi, Amnesty International researcher specializing in Egypt.
“These statements celebrating the ‘liquidation of terrorists’ usually arrive immediately after attacks. Since the new interior minister took office last June, the Interior Ministry has announced that it has neutralized 167 people, “Baoumi said in an e-mail. The Egyptian authorities usually accompany their notes of photographs of alleged militants killed, lying on the ground next to a weapon, a scenography that some experts maintain could be fabricated.
In fact, in some cases, relatives of the deceased have affirmed that they had been arrested months earlier and, probably, remained in one of the several secret prisons existing in the country. “The Egyptian authorities should conduct prompt, impartial and complete investigations into these massacres, and disseminate their findings. Those responsible for extrajudicial executions must answer to justice, “says Baoumi. This latest attack can be a blow to tourism just as the country was recovering from the annus horribilis that was 2015 when ISIS shot down an aeroplane with 224 people on board, mostly Russian tourists.
Shirley Mist has been involved in fashion and design for many years. She has also written extensively for many online publications. She currently writes for The Tribune World and is a valued member of our team.