Three soldiers killed in Sinai

Three soldiers were killed early Sunday by unknown masked assailants who targeted a bus carrying Armed Forces personnel in Sinai, according to a statement by the Armed Forces’ spokesperson.

Eleven others were also injured in the attack, the statement said, adding that the assailants were riding an SUV.

The Armed Forces offered condolences for the victims’ families and reaffirmed its fight against “black terrorism,” vowing to “fully eliminate those who belong to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organization who incite darkness and sedition.”   

This comes a day after Ansar Beit al-Maqdes, a Sinai-based militant group, claimed responsibility for shooting down a military helicopter Saturday, killing five soldiers.

In its statement, Ansar Beit al-Maqdes said they used a surface-to-air missile (SAM) to bring down the helicopter.

According to a statement by the Armed Forces’ spokesperson, the helicopter was downed during a military operation targeting Jihadi elements in North Sinai.

According to David Barnett, research associate at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the use of SAMs in this attack is of key significance, due to the important role helicopters have been playing in military operations in Sinai.

“Before yesterday there had been no credible reports that Sinai jihadis had yet used a SAM in their attacks in North Sinai… If Ansar Beit al-Maqdes continues to use SAMs, the heavy reliance on helicopters in Egyptian operations in North Sinai could become unsustainable,” he said. 

Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi offered his condolences to the victims’ families, the statement said.

Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi also offered his condolences to the Armed Forces’ martyrs who were targeted on Sunday, as well as those killed in the helicopter crash the day before, promising retribution for the “martyrs’ blood.”

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