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Egypt: Sinai Attack Was Foreign Funded 10/25 08:25

   CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Saturday that an 
assault on an army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 30 troops was 
a "foreign-funded operation" and vowed to take drastic action against militants.

   In thundering remarks delivered before cameras ahead of a military funeral 
for the slain troops, el-Sissi said there are foreign powers that want to 
"break the back of Egypt," without elaborating. He vowed to take drastic 
measures to uproot the militants and said Egypt is engaged in an "extensive 
war" that will last a long time.

   "There is a big conspiracy against us," he said while standing with army 
commanders ahead of the funeral.

   Militants launched a complex assault on the checkpoint Friday that involved 
a car bomb possibly detonated by a suicide attacker, rocket-propelled grenades 
and roadside bombs placed to target rescuers.

   Egypt declared a state of emergency and imposed a 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in 
the restive northern part of the peninsula after Friday's assault, the 
deadliest against the army in decades.

   No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the 
hallmarks of the extremist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has carried out 
several attacks on security forces since the military overthrew Islamist 
President Mohammed Morsi last year amid massive protests against him.

   El-Sissi said the aim of the attack was to "break the will of Egypt and the 
Egyptians as well as the will of the Egyptian army, which is considered a 
pillar of Egypt."

   He called on Egyptians "to be aware of what is being hatched against us" and 
to be "vigilant and steadfast with the army and the police."

   "All that is happening to us is known to us and we expected it and talked 
about it before July 3," he said, referring to the day last year when he 
overthrew Morsi. At the time el-Sissi was defense minister and army chief.

   He claimed some success in the fight against militants, saying "dozens of 
terrorists have been killed in the past weeks and months... hundreds of 
terrorists have been liquidated."

   Islamic militants have been battling security forces in Sinai for a decade, 
but the violence spiked after Morsi's overthrow. The attacks have also spread 
to other parts of Egypt, with militants targeting police in Cairo and the Nile 
Delta.

   The militants have portrayed the attacks as retaliation for a sweeping 
crackdown by security forces in which hundreds of Morsi supporters have been 
killed in street clashes and some 20,000 people have been arrested.

   The government has blamed much of the violence on Morsi's Muslim 
Brotherhood, which it blacklisted as a terrorist group last year. The 
Brotherhood, which renounced violence decades ago, has condemned the attacks 
and denied any involvement.


(KA)


 
 
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