The Province of Sinai, the Islamic State’s Egypt-affiliate, has claimed responsibilty for the attack on a Arish hotel Tuesday morning targeting judges and security forces supervising parliamentary polls.
Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed told privately owned Al-Shorouk that the number of casualties from the attack had risen to seven, including two judges, four policemen and one civilian, who works as an electrician.
Ten people were injured in the attacks, according to Megahed, including two judges who are being treated at the International Medical Center. The other eight people were transported to the General Arish Hospital. Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend has denied reports that the families of the slain judges would receive one million Egyptian pounds in compensation, asserting that judges are treated like any other Egyptian citizen.
In a statement that circulated on Islamic State-affiliated accounts on social media on Tuesday, the militant group stated that the operation has been carried out by two suicide attackers in retaliation for what they call the military’s arrest and humiliation of Muslim women in military checkpoints.
A statement on the official Facebook page for the Armed Forces said that the attack targeted the Swiss Inn hotel, where the judges supervising the parliamentary elections were staying.
A car bomb was detonated near the hotel, the statement asserted, killing the driver. As security was dealing with the explosion, a man wearing an explosive belt reportedly snuck into the hotel and detonated it, while another went into one of the rooms and shot the judge.
There are a number of conflicting reports about the incident, with the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper quoting a security source who claimed armed men were already engaged in an exchange of fire with security forces around the hotel when the car approached.
The second round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections took place on Sunday and Monday in 13 governorates, including Cairo, Qalyubiya, Daqahlia, Damietta, Monufiya, Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Kafr al-Sheikh, Ismailia, Port Said, Suez, as well as North and South Sinai.
The Armed Forces are pursuing those behind the attacks, the statement asserted, deeming it a “failed and desperate attempt to hinder the building of state institutions.”
The Province of Sinai, formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdes, is the largest and most active militant group in Egypt. It has claimed several large scale terrorist attacks, including the fatal crash of a Russian plane in Sinai last month, which killed all 227 people on board.