North Sinai crackdown 'fails' to secure safety for locals
The Egyptian government attempts to counter militant activity in the restive north Sinai province have failed to secure the safety of residents or bring about economic development, according to a Reuters report on Monday.
As the government touts large scale development projects in the peninsula, militants have shifted tactics, staging more individual attacks using snipers and planted explosives, security sources and analysts say.
Villages near Bir Al-Abd in northwest Sinai have been temporarily captured by militants over recent months, with at least 15 civilians killed by explosive devices since 10 October.
Sniper operations, which have shifted west from the Gaza border to the outskirts of El-Arish, rose to at least 18 between January and September 2020, up from 16 in 2018 and 2019 combined, security sources told Reuters.
President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi has publicised government projects such as providing social housing and other essential needs to residents in the volatile region, including local Bedouins.
"Every day we are launching new projects in towns across the governate," North Sinai governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha told local TV.
Wilayat Sinai, a militant group loyal to Islamic State group, has drawn support from Bedouins who have complained of marginalisation.
The Islamist insurgency spread in northern Sinai following the 2013 military ouster of Egypt's first democratically-elected president, Mohammed Morsi.
Since then an IS-linked militant group has been linked to the deaths of hundreds of policemen and soldiers, along with more than 1,000 civilians.
Human rights groups have accused both the militants and the government of severe human rights violations in the Sinai.
They accuse the Egyptian army of killing civilians in its campaign against the IS-affiliated group.