After extreme weather, killing and kidnapping in Bir al-Abd, and people flee raids by gunmen in Abu Araj
 
 

A civilian was shot dead by the military in the Bir al-Abd district, and another was kidnapped by militants, residents told Mada Masr. Meanwhile, extreme weather conditions flooded Wadi Arish and caused power outages in several central Sinai cities this week. 

Abu Araj residents fled to the Sheikh Zuwayed city center after dozens of gunmen stormed their village and abducted civilians.

Killing, kidnapping and new checkpoints in Bir al-Abd 

A member of the Dawagra tribe was killed in Bir al-Abd as he was driving a truck in Bir al-Abd’s Nasr village. According to residents, the car was carrying farmers from the south of the city and came under fire from a military camp. 

The military set up three new checkpoints on the Arish-Qantara International Road east of Bir al-Abd on the Arish-bound side, according to local residents.

Last July, police forces held a checkpoint in front of the village of Sadat after Province of Sinai militants repeatedly kidnapped and decapitated residents on that road and intensified their attacks around Bir al-Abd. The last such attack was on the Tofaha checkpoint in September.

In the village of Tofaha, which has become a battleground between militants and Armed Forces, a young farmer named Sameh Mohamed Abu al-Doh was kidnapped by gunmen. The Province of Sinai has not claimed responsibility for the kidnapping as this goes to press.

Military and police campaigns in the villages and neighborhoods of Bir al-Abd have increased. Young men are arrested in home raids and detained in military and security headquarters.  

Security forces have also recently closed some roads inside the city and isolated some of its neighborhoods. 

The fighting between militants and Armed Forces had been concentrated in Rafah, Sheikh Zuwayed, and Arish, but Bir al-Abd has recently become ensnared in the violence. 

Gunmen attack Abu Araj, residents flee 

On Saturday, medical sources told Mada that a house was shelled in the village of Abu Araj, south of Sheikh Zuwayed, killing four people and injuring 12 others. The source of the shelling is unknown. 

On Tuesday evening, dozens of militants stormed the village searching for wanted people, checking houses and residents’ identification cards. According to village residents, the militants, most likely belonging to the Province of Sinai, the Islamic State affiliate in the peninsula, kidnapped two young men and tried to kidnap a third, but were prevented by the village’s youths and women, who chased them off. Militants shot a young man in the leg and stole a resident’s pickup truck, the sources added. 

Although the kidnapped men were freed two days later, waves of civilians fled the village, heading north to the center of Sheikh Zuwayed.

A large number of trucks carrying furniture and home appliances belonging to Abu Araj residents began arriving in the city center, the safest area in the city. Local sources say the fleeing villagers have rented apartments there. Sources added that poorer families were being hosted in other people’s houses.

Social media activists expressed outrage at the failure of Governor General Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha or any other official to visit the individuals who had been injured in the shelling of the Abu Araj home last Saturday.  

According to a North Sinai-based journalist, the president of Arish University sent a WhatsApp message to a group of journalists informing them he would visit the injured in the Arish General Hospital on Tuesday. The journalist added that they received another message informing them the visit was canceled, as the president had to attend an urgent university meeting.

Governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha had previously visited people injured in two similar unidentified shellings. The first took place in May, when a rocket shell hit a house in Joura, south of Sheikh Zuwayed, injuring 12 people, and the second in Tofaha earlier this month, which injured six. 

Floods reach Arish Valley for the first time in 9 years

Heavy thunderstorms last Saturday flooded central Sinai valleys and Arish Valley, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Hundreds of Arish residents spent the night on the banks of the valley and the bridges linking them. 

The Roifa Dam overflowed with nearly 5 million cubic meters of water, which led to flooding in Arish Valley, according to a statement from the General Administration of Groundwater in North Sinai.

It has been nine years since heavy floods swept through Arish in 2010, killing people and destroying homes. After those devastating events, local authorities repaired the drainage system in Arish Valley, increased the height of the levees on both banks and built new bridges with drainage holes for excess water.

Power outages 

As the streets of Arish and Bir al-Abd flooded, the rain led to power outages in Sheikh Zuwayed that lasted from Saturday morning until power was gradually restored beginning Sunday evening. 

The situation was not any better in central Sinai, where floods destroyed six medium-voltage transmission towers, according to a source in North Sinai’s electricity sector in North Sinai. This led to power outages in Hassana and Nekhel, as well as the cement factory and the industrial zone in the village of Baghdad. The blackouts resulted in mobile and internet service interruptions to the two cities and surrounding areas.

In central Sinai’s Hassana area, a father and his son died last Tuesday due to floods in Mount Yalq, according to a statement from the North Sinai Health Directorate.

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