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Sinai Blasts Kill 2, Wound 40

  • Edward Yeranian

A suicide truck bomb and roadside explosives killed two people and wounded more than 40 Tuesday in Egypt's northern Sinai peninsula.

A man driving a stolen water-tanker truck blew himself up at the gates of an Egyptian police camp in the northern Sinai town of el Arish, causing numerous injuries. The attack comes only days before a high profile international investment conference in the southern Sinai resort town of Sharm el Sheikh.

Islamist militants have been blamed for repeated attacks in Sinai, which have increased since then-army chief and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi led the 2013 ouster of Egypt's first freely elected civilian President Mohamed Morsi. Egyptian soldiers and police are often the targets of the gun assaults and bombings.

An unrelated roadside bomb killed one Egyptian army officer and wounded several others.

An Egyptian police spokesman told local television the quick reaction of police prevented the suicide bomber from causing more serious casualties.

Militants have resorted frequently to suicide bombings to target government security compounds in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and the Sinai. They have used smaller bombs in other parts of Egypt, except for a powerful blast that blew off the facade of an interior ministry complex in January 2014.

An Islamic militant group calling itself Beit al Maqdis released a sophisticated video of another attack on Egyptian security forces several days ago, using music, expressions and graphics identical to those used by the Islamic State militant group.

Many Egyptian military analysts allege Beit al Maqdis has ties to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood group and the Hamas movement, which controls neighboring Gaza.

Egyptian authorities have declared the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas to be terrorist organizations. Both groups deny the charge.

American University of Beirut political scientist Hilal Khashan argues the conflicts in many Arab states, including Egypt, are the result of the failure to modernize during the past 100 years. He argues efforts to vanquish militants and extremists are futile without tackling the root causes.

"These efforts strike me like trying to extinguish (boiling) water," said Khashan. "The problems are there. (IS) succeeded in planting seeds throughout the region. Hitting them in one place or more than one place will not make a difference."

Khashan says the situation in the region now is a "major phenomenon and it needs something more than guns and bombers to deal with the problem.”