At least six including judge killed in North Sinai attacks, ISIS affiliate claims attack

Tuesday 24-11-2015 04:21 PM
At least six including judge killed in North Sinai attacks, ISIS affiliate claims attack

CAIRO, Nov. 24 (Aswat Masriya) - A judge and two policemen were killed in attacks perpetrated by three "takfiri" assailants, all of whom are also dead, the armed forces spokesman said on Tuesday, describing attacks that were claimed by Egypt's most active militant group. 

The attacks early Tuesday morning targeted the Swiss Inn hotel in al-Arish which was housing judges overseeing the second phase of parliamentary elections that ended last night, as well as journalists covering the polls.

Arish is the largest urban area in North Sinai.

In the first attack a suicide bomber drove a car loaded with explosives intending to ram it into the hotel. But security forces thwarted the plan in an exchange of fire, detonating the explosives and killing the attacker, the armed forces spokesman said in a statement.

Another attacker wearing a suicide belt managed to sneak into the hotel where he blew himself up.

The third attacker snuck into a hotel room and fired "randomly", killing a judge, the  spokesman said.

Two policemen were killed in the attacks, the spokesman said but did not clarify in which of them. Meanwhile, a dozen people were injured, including police, army personnel and civilians as a result of the car bomb explosion.

In a statement by the interior ministry that came out just minutes after the armed forces' statement, one civilian was also killed in the attacks. The armed forces made no mention of a civilian casualty. This would raise the death toll to seven. 

The Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria's Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attacks in a statement circulated on social media. 

The group said there were two attackers, naming both. They explained that a suicide car blast and a perpetrator who stormed the judges' area in the hotel, killed an unspecified number of people using an automatic weapon. He then blew himself up "killing and injuring many of them," the statement said.  

The group said the attack was in response to the arrests and "humiliation" of Muslim women at army checkpoints.

At the time of publishing, Aswat Masriya was had no news about the incidents referred to by Sinai Province.

Aswat Masriya could not independently verify the content of the army statement. Anti-terrorism legislation imposes heavy fines on news organizations that contradict official statements, specifically death tolls and other casualties.

Sinai Province is one of the most active militant groups in Egypt's restive Sinai region and the group has claimed responsibility for attacks across the nation.

The group, which used to be called Ansar Beit El-Maqdis, changed its name to Sinai Province after pledging allegiance to Islamic State fighters a year ago. 

In the past few weeks, the group claimed responsibility twice for the downing of a Russian plane, which crashed in the Sinai desert on Oct. 31 and has been at the epicentre of international media reports ever since.

Militancy inside Egypt has surged since the military ouster of former president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013. While the vast majority of bombings and shootings take place in North Sinai, other parts of the country have been affected too.

Security personnel are the main targets of attacks but in May, three prosecutors and a driver were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in North Sinai's Arish city.

Egyptian authorities say they have killed hundreds of militants in Sinai in security crackdowns.

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