Egypt to Evacuate Areas in North Sinai to Combat Militants

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Egypt will start evacuating some areas of North Sinai in response to militant attacks that left 31 soldiers dead in the province on Friday.

Compensation for evacuated residents will differ from one family to the other; in some cases providing rent money, while others will be provided with land, explained cabinet spokesman Hossam El-Kaweesh while speaking to CBC private satellite channel on Sunday.

In another phone interview with Sada El-Balad TV, El-Kaweesh stressed this is not displacement, but only evacuation of some areas that are threatened by recurrent confrontations.

Friday’s terrorist attacks had provoked a strong public and government reaction, with  authorities promising strong measures to combat the problem.

A state of emergency was declared on Saturday from the border areas of Rafah to Sheikh Zuwayed, to last for three months, and a curfew was also declared in the governorate of North Sinai from 5pm to 7am.

It is unclear whether the curfew will be limited to three months or whether it would extend past the lifting of the state of emergency.

The North Sinai governorate administration is currently undertaking a census of the citizens who will be evacuated, El-Kaweesh added.

On Sunday, Egypt’s military launched fresh air strikes in the area, killing five suspected militants.

A militant insurgency by jihadist groups in the peninsula has become more active since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Hundreds of police and soldiers, as well as militants, have been killed.

No militant group has yet come forward to claim responsibility for Friday’s attacks, although Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, a jihadist group active in Sinai, has in the past claimed responsibility for many similar attacks.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday blamed the deadly attacks on foreign parties, saying that Egypt is experiencing an “existential war.”

Source: Ahram Online