Egyptian security forces hunt Bedouin militants in Sinai

A Reuters report Aug. 18 depicts the situation in the Sinai Peninsula escalating to a small counter-insurgency war between Egyptian security forces and Bedouin Islamic militants. A landmine damaged an Egyptian police vehicle in northern Sinai Aug. 27, injuring a police colonel and a civilian Bdouin tracker helping police hunt down the group suspected of seven bombings in the area. It was the third such blast in Sinai since police last week launched a large-scale search operation for the group, believed to be Sinai Bedouin.

The landmine exploded near Mount Halal, the area said to be at the center of the search, south of the Mediterranean town of El Arish, the home area of several named bombing suspects. Police say they were looking for the remaining members of the group which killed at least 98 people in bombings in the Red Sea resorts of Taba in October and Sharm El Sheikh in July.

Landmine explosions in Sinai on Aug. 24 and 25 damaged three police vehicles, killed two police officers and injured at least five police and a civilian. Some 3,500 police with 20 armoured vehicles are taking part in the operation.

Parts of Sinai still have landmines from wars between Egypt and Israel but the number of explosions this week suggests the fugitives laid them recently, according to security sources.

Police held 34 local people for questioning Aug. 26, but it was not clear if they were part of the group of militants.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said this week the government was looking at social factors in north Sinai that might have contributed to inspiring people to become suicide bombers in Sharm El Sheikh. “We need to see why this happened and how this happened,” he told Tuesday’s New York Times. “Is it just people frustrated, or are they people with connections?”

We have noted before why the Bedouin have reason to harbor a lot of anger towards Israel. Their traditional lands in Sinai and the Negev now dissected by the Egypt-Israel border, they have also found their lands systematically reduced by state policy on the Israeli side. See WW4 REPORT #s 49 & 42

See our last post on the aftermath of the Sinai attacks.