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Egypt announces major security shakeup

October 29, 2017

Egypt has replaced the army chief of staff and several top Interior Ministry security officials. The shakeup appears to be in reaction to a deadly militant attack last week.

Egyptian soldiers
Image: Getty Images/AFP/K. Desouki

Egypt implemented a major shakeup of the security command on Saturday, in an apparent response to the death of at least 16 police in a militant ambush last week.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi replaced General Mahmoud Hegazy with Lieutenant General Mohammed Farid Hegazy as armed forces chief of staff. Given the dominance of the military, the post is one of Egypt's top positions.

Mahmoud Hegazy was named a presidential adviser.

Separately, the Interior Ministry replaced several high-ranking security officials, both nationally and in Giza province.

No reason was provided for the changes.

The move came after an October 20 militant attack  killed at least 16 police officers in al-Wahat al-Bahriya area in Giza province, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) southwest of Cairo. The ambush raised questions over intelligence and security failures.

No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the ambush, but Egypt claimed the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot Hasm was behind the attack. 

Egyptian security forces have launched operations in the Western Desert in recent days, including one on Friday that killed at least 13 militants. The sparsely populated region is considered a major arms smuggling and militant infiltration route near war-torn Libya.

Egyptian forces have been battling several militant groups, including an "Islamic State" (IS) insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula since Sisi overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. 

Egypt blames the IS and the Muslim Brotherhood for militant attacks that have killed hundreds of police and soldiers.

The Arab world's most populous country has been under a state of emergency since earlier this year when militants carried out a series of deadly attacks on Coptic Christians.

cw/sms(AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)