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Egypt's president blames attack on foreign conspiracy

October 26, 2014

Speaking in the aftermath of attacks in Sinai that killed at least 31 Egyptian soldiers, President el-Sissi claimed foreign powers were behind the attack. He vowed to take extreme measures to uproot militants.

Sicheheitskräfte in Ägypten
Image: Imago/Ahmed Gomaa

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi blamed a foreign conspiracy on Saturday for attacks on army checkpoints in the Sinai Peninsula that killed at least 31 Egyptian troops. He pledged to take drastic action against militants.

Speaking before cameras ahead of a military funeral for the soldiers killed in the attack, el-Sissi said a "foreign-funded operation" was responsible, and vowed to take extreme measures to root out those responsible.

On Friday, two attacks by militants in the Sinai Peninsula on the border of Israel and the Gaza strip killed dozens of soldiers. The attacks constituted some of the worst anti-government violence since former president Mohammed Morsi was ousted last year.

Ägypten Präsident Abdel Fattah al-Sissi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said his country is engaged in an existential war in SinaiImage: picture-alliance/dpa

"There is a big conspiracy against us," el-Sissi said as he stood with army commanders. He also claimed that the the attacks had benefited from "foreign support," though he did not name any specific country or organization.

"Radical measures will be taken soon in the border area with the [Gaza ]strip to confront terrorism," el-Sissi said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but the extremist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis or "Champions of Jerusalem," has carried out similar attacks on Egyptian security forces since Morsi's ouster.

El-Sissi said in his remarks that the purpose of the attacks 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."

New security measures

Egypt is considering broadening the jurisdiction of military courts and displacing thousands of locals in order to widen a military buffer zone on the border of the Gaza Strip. The expanded buffer zone would enable Egypt to pursue militants and destroy tunnels used to smuggle fighters and weapons.

Grenze Israel Ägypten Sinai 22.10.2014
Egypt declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew for certain areas in Sinai on the Israeli borderImage: Reuters/Amir Cohen

On Saturday, Egypt's National Defense Council declared a three-month state of emergency and imposed a 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in areas near the borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip.

"Egypt is engaged in an existential war, which means that all Egyptians have to be united. The battle in Sinai is long," el-Sissi said.

Egyptian officials have claimed that violence is being organized by the deposed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which has been the subject of a rigorous crackdown since the military took back power last year. The Muslim Brotherhood has denied any involvement and condemned the attacks.

bw/jm (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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