A number of armed men stormed the main water tank in the North Sinai capital of Arish on Monday and ordered workers to stand in line, before taking a truck owned by a high-ranking official at the water distribution company and fleeing the scene, a worker at the site told Mada Masr.
This follows a spate of the kidnapping of contractors and workers assumed to be collaborating with the Armed Forces in Sinai.
Masked men kidnapped leading businessman and military contractor Ayman Sahmoud from his car in front of his house in southern Arish late on Sunday evening, eyewitnesses told Mada Masr. Sahmoud, who is from one of Arish’s biggest tribes, Fawakhreya, was taken to an unknown location.
A source close to Sahmoud’s family said he signed a deal two days ago with the Armed Forces to continue a road construction project in the Jifjafa area in central Sinai. He had reportedly started sending equipment to a number of construction sites in central Sinai for projects in collaboration with the Armed Forces Engineering Authority before he was kidnapped.
Sahmoud’s brother was also kidnapped by militants in April from his home in Arish, and was released a few weeks later.
A number of other construction companies working on military-commissioned initiatives have recently halted their operations in areas like Bir al-Abd, after Islamic State-affiliated militants destroyed their equipment.
Militants also beheaded a young man in Sheikh Zuwayed on Thursday, after they had held him hostage for several days. The man allegedly had links with a “death squad” of civilian youth formed by the Armed Forces that locals refer to as “Sahawat,” or “Al-Bash Marja,” according to a local source.
Three Palestinian workers kidnapped by militants from the border area on Monday were found alive later the same day, the Interior Ministry in Gaza reported. No details were given as to why they were kidnapped.