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.
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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More