News / Middle East

Egyptian Army Boosts Forces in Sinai After Kidnapping

Egyptian Army soldiers guard gates during police protest at main crossing into Gaza Strip, near Rafah, May 19, 2013.
Egyptian Army soldiers guard gates during police protest at main crossing into Gaza Strip, near Rafah, May 19, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— The Egyptian army sent reinforcements into the Sinai Peninsula on Monday after President Mohamed Morsi said there would be no talks with militant Islamists who abducted seven members of the security forces last week.
 
Radical Islamists have expanded into a security vacuum in Sinai that the state has struggled to fill since an uprising swept autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011. The groups have launched attacks on Israel and targets in North Sinai.
 
The kidnapping has highlighted lawlessness in the peninsula bordering Israel, enraged Egyptian security forces and piled domestic pressure on Morsi to act. Egyptian security forces have blocked border crossings into the Gaza Strip to pressure the government into helping free their colleagues.
 
Witnesses saw armored personnel carriers moving east on Monday over the Suez Canal towards North Sinai where militants staged the abduction and where gunmen assaulted a police base on Monday. They later arrived in the North Sinai town of El-Arish, accompanied by the commander of Egypt's second field army.
 
A military official said the extra military forces were dispatched to Sinai after a meeting on Sunday between the army command and Morsi, who has promised not to submit to blackmail by kidnappers demanding the release of jailed Islamists.
 
Presidential spokesman Omar Amer said, "All options are on the table to free the kidnapped soldiers."
 
The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper said on its website that shipping in the Suez Canal had been briefly halted as the reinforcements crossed the waterway.
 
"Our patience has run out," Al-Ahram quoted a military official as saying in its print edition.
 
As security began to unravel in the peninsula later in 2011, Israel agreed to Egyptian requests to deploy more troops there than allowed by the countries' 1979 peace treaty. The Israeli defense ministry had no immediate comment on the new deployment.
 
The Sinai is mainly a large swathe of rugged, thinly populated desert but its Red Sea coast has a string of international tourist resorts.
 
Morsi Faces Tough Choices on Action

"Our impression is that the Israelis are eager for Egypt to improve the security situation in the Sinai, and it's unlikely that they would object," said a Western diplomat in Cairo.
 
Egyptian security forces launched a security operation to re-establish control in Sinai last August after an attack that killed 16 Egyptian border guards.
 
Morsi said on Sunday there would be no talks with "the criminals" — a reference to militants who adhere to a more radical school of Islam than the president's Muslim Brotherhood.
 
The kidnappers are demanding the release of militants convicted last year of the attacks that killed seven people, six of them members of the security forces, in 2011.
 
A video posted online on Sunday showed seven blindfolded men with their hands bound above their heads. They said they were the hostages, begging Morsi to free political detainees in Sinai in exchange for their own release.
 
Al-Masry Al-Youm, an independent newspaper, reported that parents and friends of some of the men who appeared in the video had confirmed their identities. The video's authenticity could not be independently confirmed.
 
"In domestic political terms, Morsi is going to be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't," said Yasser El-Shimy, Egypt analyst with the International Crisis Group.
 
"If he negotiates, he will be criticized for being too lenient with Islamist militants, and if he tries to wage an operation to free them, which may entail casualties, then he is also going to be widely criticized."

You May Like

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid