An explosion targeting an armoured vehicle in North Sinai resulted in the injury of seven armed forces personnel on Friday following increased security measures in the volatile peninsula.
The soldiers injured in Friday’s attack were transferred to hospital for treatment, an armed forces statement said.
The attack, which occurred south of Al-Arish, comes a week after a bomb in the Sheikh Zuweid area killed at least 27 soldiers. A separate attack, an exchange of gunfire at an Al-Arish checkpoint, killed three others.
In response to the deadly attack, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi convened a meeting of the National Defence Council. The outcome of the meeting was to impose a three month state of emergency in parts of North Sinai, including a curfew.
The armed forces were also instructed to establish a 500 metre ‘secure zone’ along Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, with residents living within the zone ordered to evacuate. The armed forces say the ‘secure zone’ aims to eradicate the use of smuggling tunnels that cross the Egypt-Gaza border.
Al-Sisi told the public in a televised address that the attack on 24 October was supported by “foreign elements”, but did not elaborate further.
The office of the armed forces spokesman said on Saturday that the relocation of residents continues, but declined to comment on any timeframe for the full establishment of the ‘secure zone’.
Reinforcements and special forces were also deployed to the Sinai to support the security forces already operating there.
US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said Friday, that “Egypt has the right to take steps to maintain their own security”, and that the US “understand[s] the threat that they are facing from the Sinai”. She added: “That’s why we have provided the Apache helicopters.”
Psaki also said that the US is “continuing to support their efforts to take steps to defend their own borders”.
In response to a question on the relocation of the residents within the 500 metre zone, Psaki said “we believe that the impact on the internally displaced… is an important factor”.
The Salafi Front, an Egyptian Islamist political organisation, condemned the events taking place in Sinai in a Friday statement. The group accused the armed forces of “torturing the innocent” by relocating residents from the border area.
The statement read that “the leadership of the military coup” is the one responsible for every drop of blood whether it is that of civilians or soldiers.
The Salafi Front also stressed that the displacement and relocation policy of the people in Sinai is the same as the actions of the “Zionist enemy” towards the people of Palestine. It added that “the allegations of fight against terrorism doesn’t give allowance to its occurrence”, as it will result in granting more security to Zionists and will tighten the noose on the Palestinians.