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Published On: Mon, Apr 10th, 2017

State of Emergency Declared in Egypt

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nsnbc : Following deadly bomb attacks in two Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday Egypt’s Cabinet, on Monday, approved a decree to impose a nationwide state of emergency for three months.

St Mark's Cathedral attack_Palm Sunday_Alexandria_Egypt_Apr 2017Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi issued the decree on Sunday following the two deadly bomb attacks. On Monday the Cabinet has approved the decree during a cabinet session. The nationwide state of emergency takes effect at 1 p.m. local time and will be upheld for a period of three months.

One bomb exploded Sunday at St. George’s Church in the Al-Gharbayya governorate. Hours later another bomb exploded at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. The explosions in Tanta and the subsequent explosion in Alexandria claimed according to initial reports from the Health Ministry 43 lives while about another 100 or more were injured.

A bomb had reportedly been placed underneath a seat. An emergency room was established by Egyptian security services. President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi reportedly made sure military hospitals were ready to receive the injured.

Tanta_Egypt_After the attack on a Coptic Church_Palm Sunday_Apr 2017The other bomb exploded at St Mark’s cathedral in Alexandria. The State-linked Al-Ahram reported that a high-ranking police officer was killed when he intercepted a suicide bomber outside the Cathedral. The police officer has been identified as Emad Al-Rekaiby. The self-proclaimed Islamic State allegedly claimed responsibility for the attacks. S far there has not been presented any conclusive evidence to support the claim even though it is not unlikely that the Egyptian branch is ISIS, a.k.a. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis or Wilayat Sinai carried out the attacks.

Egypt’s Muslim Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni Islamic authority in Egypt, issued a strongly worded statement condemning the attacks. The bombings also led to more or less immediate criticism of Egypt’s Interior Ministry and Security Services for “having failed” the Christian Coptic communities in the country in the presence of increased islamist terrorism.

The bombings have also been condemned by the UN security Council as well as by political leaders from around the world, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who stressed that the fight against terrorism and especially against State-sponsored terrorism is an international issue.

Meeting of the Security Council (archives) UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Meeting of the Security Council (archives) UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Others again describe such criticism as an understandable emotional response but underpin that it is impossible to protect an entire country against terrorists who can strike anywhere, at any time. Terrorists who more often than not are internationally organized and supported by networks with links to foreign intelligence services. So far no organization claimed responsibility for the two bombings.

It is worth noting that the main purpose of attacks that target specific religious communities usually is not to harm any particular group of individuals but to destabilize a country by creating an atmosphere of mistrust, suspicion and division instead of understanding and solidarity.

It may be noteworthy that Israel closed its border to Egypt amidst the terrorist attacks and following reports according to which a rocket, allegedly, had been fired from Egypt’s Sinai into Israel. The rocket was reportedly launched right after the closure of the border. Israeli citizens will be permitted to return to Israel through the Taba crossing. The Prime Minister’s Office announced, in an official statement, that the closure of the borders comes in the light of “the intensifying activities” of the Islamic State (IS) in the Sinai region.

Israel has already banned its citizens from travelling to Egypt, the decision to close the border comes in the wake of the bombing attacks against the two churches in Egypt that claimed 43 lives and left more than 100 wounded.

File photo: ABM bombs Egyptian military vehicle. Youm7

File photo: ABM bombs Egyptian military vehicle. Youm7

ISIS, or rather the Egyptian ISIS franchise Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), ak.k.a. Wilayat Sinai has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

In 2014 Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis (ABM) declared allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (a.k.a. Al-Badri or Caliph Ibrahim), and changed its name to Wilayat Sinai (State of Sinai). AMB has also been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The group had, up until that period primarily focused on isolated small-scale bombings as well as assassinations of police and military officers and some government officials.

However, ABM (Wilayat Sinai) underwent a drastic evolution that turned it into a capable and dangerous insurgency.

Egypt_ABM_Feb 2015_NEOPart of the organization’s “success” was that it managed to unite part of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s armed wing, parts of the al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas, Islamic State affiliated insurgents from Libya, and other Al-Qaeda,  Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS-linked organizations.

ABM or Wilayat Sinai has been responsible for the majority of the acts of terrorism that have been carried out in Egypt since 2013 and it continues its insurgency. The group’s main “strongholds” are in Egypt’s North Sinai province along the border between Egypt and Palestine’s Gaza Strip, as well as along the Egyptian – Israeli border.

CH/L – 10.04.2017

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