At least 174 Egyptians were killed and over 600 injured in more than 1,000 violent incidents that took place across Egypt during the first quarter of 2015. North Sinai ranked as the “bloodiest zone” in the country, according to a report recently issued by Democracy Index (DI), a tracing tool for local NGO, the International Development Center (IDC).
There have been at least 156 attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, including the kidnap and murder of both security forces and citizens. Last week alone, a series of deadly attacks claimed the lives of several security force personnel and local residents.
“It is not an easy task dealing with Arab Bedouins presently in North Sinai,” the DI’s Executive Director, Mohamed Adel, told Daily News Egypt Tuesday. He added that confrontations by security forces as the only solution is not the most effective strategy as it generates “revenge operations”.
Adel added that after almost three years of major counterterrorism efforts in the peninsula, reality shows that there is a flaw in the process. “Soldiers still get kidnapped, the checkpoint in Al-Arish constantly gets targeted,” he said.
DI’s report said at least 10 citizens and soldiers were kidnapped in 2015, which resulted in their murder.
The report also traced 664 violent incidents in January, which increased in the last ten days following the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. Meanwhile, 419 events took place in February and 371 in March.
Violence ranges from attacks on citizens and security personnel to public and vital facilities. According to DI, 56.2% of incidents involve planting bombs in public spaces and state institutions, with a total of 286 bombs exploding and 535 detonated by experts. In many instances, sound bombs were used.
Moreover, the report said that security forces brutality against citizens contributed to 15.5% of violent incidents, with 226 protests dispersed. DI said there was an excessive use of force against protesters, in addition to live shots fired in one case and tear gas at a funeral.
The report attributed three main causes to the continuation of violence in Egypt. The first was the ineffectiveness of the state’s security strategy that pushes towards more violence, amid an absence of justice. The report established that institutions, such as educational establishments and the media “incite” to violence.
“The state’s strategy is not a total failure,” Adel said. “For one thing, transitional justice is not this regime’s demands, but has been requested repeatedly under all rules that followed the 2011 revolution, in vain.”
Adel said the problem is that security strategies are only one part of combating violence, but that the state was ignoring other effective mechanisms that should work in parallel with security efforts.
Attacks on vital facilities such as electricity power plants, trains, communication towers, security institutions, cars and belongings of citizens, police, military and judges also widely contributed to the increase of violence.
The report highlighted that in many events, the perpetuators remain unknown, as “there is a dangerous indication of the involvement of young groups aged between 14 and 21, bringing to question the ability of the state in protecting the youth”.
“The main reason to blame the state is not just to criticise, but its holding the state accountable for its responsibilities in securing its citizens,” Adel concluded.