SHAFAQNA – Egypt has declared a state of emergency in the north and centre of the Sinai Peninsula after a suicide car bombing killed at least 30 soldiers.
The measures will begin on Saturday at 03:00 GMT “for duration of three months,” Presidency Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said in a statement, in the wake of the deadliest attack on the security forces since the army deposed President Mohamed Morsi last year.
A three-day mourning period has been declared across the country, while a curfew has been put in place between 7pm and 7am in areas covered by the state of emergency declaration, according to state media.
The attack on Friday afternoon hit an army checkpoint at Karm al-Qawadeis, southwest of Sheikh Zuweid in Sinai.
Egyptian sources said the suicide car bomber detonated his explosives near the checkpoint’s magazine, causing it and an army vehicle to explode. Fighters then attacked the site with guns and a rocket-propelled grenade.
The source said the group attacked as soldiers were on break inside their tents. State media reported that 28 other people were wounded, several of whom were in critical condition.
“Most have been seriously injured and not all of them have been taken to hospital yet,” health ministry official Tareq Khater told the AFP news agency.
Three more members of Egypt’s security forces were killed in a separate attack at a checkpoint outside nearby al-Arish. It was not immediately clear whether the dead were soldiers or police.
Local media said the president also ordered a meeting of the government’s national defence council following the blast.
The council is made up of the prime minister, the head of the parliament, the minister of defence and the commanders of the Egyptian armed forces, and is chaired by the president.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Peter Bechtold, a former US State Department official, said that anger is brewing in the region following the ouster and imprisonment of Morsi.
Bechtold quoted sources as saying that Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the most active armed group in Egypt, may be linked to the attack.
The attack was one of the deadliest on security forces since Sisi in July last year overthrew Mohamed Morsi from the presidency, launched a bloody crackdown on his supporters and declared his Muslim Brotherhood movement a terrorist organisation.
Hundreds of soldiers and police officers have been killed in attacks since last year.
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