MB condemns deadly Sinai checkpoint attack

The Muslim Brotherhood condemned Friday’s Sinai attacks that killed at least 33 security personnel and said authorities were responsible for the security failure.

The Saturday statement, which was published on the now-outlawed group’s website, was accompanied by similar statements from the former first family. The ousted Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Morsi, was forcibly removed from power by military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July 2013 after mass popular protests against his rule.

In a statement at Saturday’s military funeral, Sisi blamed “foreign” elements for the attacks and vowed to take several concerted measures along the border with Gaza in order to combat militant groups within the peninsula.

Sisi, now president, has since thrown thousands of Morsi’s supporters in prison, labeled the Islamist group a terrorist organization and forced them out of public and political spheres. The new president has also launched several military operations in the Sinai to root out militant organizations. 

Hundreds of security personnel have been killed in Sinai over the past year, as Egypt’s military struggles to counter the increased militant activity in the peninsula since Morsi’s ouster.

The EU and US have both condemned Friday’s attacks.

A three-month state of emergency and curfew from 5 pm to 7 am was also declared Friday night across most of North Sinai, and the Rafah border was closed amid intensified security operations.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Internet and telephone communications were cut in North Sinai, but were restored later Friday evening. In similar attacks over the past year, improvised bombs have been detonated from afar through cellular phones.

Conflicting media reports on Friday

Friday’s events were mired in conflicting reports of the violence. In the early hours after the main explosion at the Karm al-Qawadees checkpoint, media outlets published several diverging accounts of how the checkpoint bombing was perpetrated.

By the evening, however, a security source confirmed to privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm that a suicide bomber drove a vehicle filled with homemade explosive devices into the checkpoint, adding that the remains of the assailant may have been among the bodies at the scene of the attack.

The Turkish Anadalu news agency reported that three soldiers were taken hostage in the course of the attack. However, as of Friday evening, the military was still verifying this claim, according to a statement issued by Armed Forces Spokesperson Mohamed Samir.

Just hours after the attack at Karm al-Qawadees checkpoint, another assault on a security checkpoint outside of Arish claimed the lives of three more security personnel. Unidentified gunmen allegedly opened fire on security forces guarding the checkpoint.

Shortly after the second assault, the privately owned news network Sky News reported that the incident occurred in the Taweel district, near the oft-attacked North Sinai gas pipeline that pumps fuel to Israel. However, the Armed Forces released a statement refuting this report.

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