The EOHR issued a statement on Thursday calling for the arrest of the kidnappers of four army officers and three police officers in Sinai. In the statement EOHR said the officers were kidnapped off duty, and are being held for ransom and are used as bartering chips to secure the release of the kidnappers’ relatives from jail.
EOHR called the abduction an act of terrorism, which requires “quick and immediate intervention” to prevent Sinai from becoming a hotbed for terrorism.
“Such terrorist crimes represent a gross violation to life, liberty, personal security and freedom of movement, guaranteed by international conventions on human rights,” EOHR said, calling on the government to comb through the peninsula and to close all borders until the men are found.
The statement continued by saying the repeated attacks on the Al-Arish police station, as well as the attack on the border last year that left several soldiers dead, “prove there is a complete lack of security in Sinai”. In order for the state to preserve national security, the statement said, it must exert unremitting efforts and hold a steadfast position in the face of the spread of terrorism.
Head of EOHR Hafez Abu Saada called the Sinai Peninsula an area of great importance both politically and in terms of security. He added that the kidnapping is evidence of the collapse of Egypt’s security and called on the authorities to find and punish those responsible.
Meanwhile, soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula border town of Rafah closed the crossing into the Gaza Strip on Friday, the state-run Al-Ahram reported. The closure was in protest to the kidnapping of officers on Thursday.
The soldiers have said the border will remain closed until the soldiers are released. According to AFP the three police officers served in the Rafah border terminal.
The protest comes a day after President Mohamed Morsi held talks with the defence and the interior ministers regarding the abductions and announced efforts being taken to negotiate the release of the security personnel.
State media has said that security officials were in talks with the abductors via mediators, local Bedouin leaders who hold sway in Sinai, AFP reported.
Security in Sinai has deteriorated since former President Hosni Mubarak was removed from power. Over the past year there have been several rocket attacks on Israel believed to have originated in Sinai, as well as kidnappings of tourists in exchange for the release of jailed relatives.