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Former parliamentary candidate killed by unknown gunmen in Arish

A former parliamentary candidate was killed late on Friday by unidentified gunmen in front of his home in the North Sinai capital of Arish, according to eyewitnesses.

Gunmen driving a privately owned Hyundai Verna carried out the attack on Samy al-Kashef as he entered his home in the area of Salayma at approximately 10 pm on Friday evening, witnesses told Mada Masr.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, they recounted that one of the armed men stepped out of the vehicle, which they parked near Kashef’s home, and shot him in the chest and the head at close range. He was taken to the Arish General Hospital, but the former parliamentary candidate died shortly after his arrival.

Kashef, who was a member of the Salafi Nour Party, unsuccessfully ran for Parliament as an independent candidate in the 2012 and 2015 parliamentary elections.

At the time of the 2015 parliamentary elections, Nour Party member Mostafa Abdel Rahman was similarly killed by two unidentified gunmen as he left prayers at a mosque near his home.

Local sources told Mada Masr that the reason behind Kamel’s Friday killing was likely his extensive connections with high-ranking security and military figures, which he used to broker the release of young North Sinai residents arrested in recent security crackdowns, or those arrested without charges. Kashef is considered one of Arish’s “elders,” and is known for his service to the city, sources added.

While the North Sinai capital has seen several deadly, targeted attacks on civilians since the commencement of the large scale military campaign Operation Sinai 2018 in February, this was the first to take place in a central location. In mid June, engineer Emad al-Bosaily and shop owner Mostafa Abu Rania were killed in outside their homes in the the areas of Dahsheya and Ebny Beitak (Build Your House) respectively, which are located on the outskirts of Arish.

Salayma, where Kashef was killed, is located in the center of the city, near Rifai Square, which was turned into a barracks for security personnel with the start of the campaign.  Security forces and police vehicles are stationed near the area where the former parliamentary candidate was killed, and there is a checkpoint located at the entrance to the street that leads to the area from the south.

At the start of Operation Sinai 2018, which was launched with the aim of curtailing militancy in the peninsula, Salayma and adjacent areas like Safa, Aroug and Sharabga, were cordoned off for two weeks. During this time, according to residents, joint forces comprising of police, National Security Agency and intelligence personnel conducted raids on private residences, confiscating cell phones and detaining men for interrogation, releasing them several weeks later.

The attack came several days before the Armed Forces issued an official statement on Sunday claiming to have killed 52 militants as part of Operation Sinai 2018 in recent days.

Similar attacks have taken place in Arish in recent years. In 2013, Sheikh Abdel Hamid Salmy, one of the leaders of the Fawakhriya tribe, the largest and most important tribe in the city, was killed as he was leaving a mosque at dawn. Sheikh Hamdy Gouda, the chief of the same tribe, was kidnapped from his home in Arish in 2017, and his whereabouts are still unknown.