Yesterday’s suicide car bombing in Sinai in which 33 Egyptian soldiers lost their lives and 25 were injured has left Egyptians heartbroken and angry at the terrorist Islamist Jihadis.
The bombing on Friday was carried out by a suspected jihadi who rammed a checkpoint with his explosives-packed vehicle, according to security officials. The attack took place in an rural area northwest of al-Arish, the main town in north Sinai. Militants also shot dead an officer and wounded two soldiers on Friday at another checkpoint south of Arish.
A three-day period of public mourning was declared in Egypt as the dead were given a military funeral. President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi led the mourners; with him were Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahalab, Defence Minister Sidqy Sobhy, Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim, and senior military and government officials.
Among the 33 dead, four were Copts. Three came form Minya, Upper Egypt, and one came form Zaqazig, Sharqiya, in the East Delta. Funeral services were held for them in their hometown churches. Anba Timotheus, Bishop of Zaqazig and Minyal-Qamh, presided over the funeral of 23-year-old Kyrillos Fadel; while Anba Macariu, Bishop of Minya; and Anba Aghathon, Bishop of Maghagha presided over the funerals for Minya’s soldiers who had fallen victim to the terrorist bombing. These were Shenouda Anwar Ishaq, 21; Mafdy Zaky Awani, 22; and Adel Eid Amin Habib, 21.
The target: Egypt
The President said that external support had been given to the attackers. In a televised address to the nation midday on Saturday, President Sisi said: “It is very important to know the motives behind this operation. Let me tell you first of all that there are external motives behind it. External support was given to those who undertook this operation against the Egyptian army. Why? Pay attention, I’m talking to all Egyptians. This was done to break the will of the army, the will of Egypt and Egyptians.
“We are indeed deeply grieved, but we must be alert to the plot that is being woven against us,” Mr Sisi said. “This was all expected since 3 July 2013 [the day Egyptians, backed by their military, overthrew the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood regime which had ruled Egypt for one year]. Egypt is battling a huge war; it is a battle of existence. But Egypt will never give in. With the help of God, she will stand as one man in the face of all who wish to break her.”
A three-month state of emergency was declared in the Sinai Peninsula and went into force in the early hours of Saturday. A decision was also taken to close the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip, the only route into the Palestinian territory not controlled by Israel. According to the independent Cairo daily Al-Youm al-Sabei, the coming few days will see the Egyptian army establish a 1.5 – 3km deep shield area all along the 14km Gaza border with Egypt.
“The army and the police will take all necessary measures to tackle the dangers of terrorism and its financing, to preserve the security of the region and protect the lives of citizens,” President Sisi said.
Churches offer condolences
Egyptian Churches issued statements in which they condemned the terrorist bombing and offered their condolences and prayers for the victims. The Coptic Orthodox Church called upon Egyptians to stand united behind the political leadership in the face of the enemies of the nation.
The Evangelical Church declared that: “Over the years [from 1967 to 1973 when Sinai was under Israeli occupation], Egypt lost many of her sons in battles to regain Sinai to Mother Egypt. Now we are again losing sons and brothers there for nothing but defending the homeland.” The Church called on the President and relevant authorities to use all possible measures to protect the people and the land. “Enough tolerance with those who have proved they have no love for the nation, no soul and no conscience,” the statement said.
The Coptic Catholic Church described Egypt as the mother of dedication and martyrdom, and the victims of the bombing as moving towards eternity in a glorious procession that lights the land with freedom. It said it prayed for a speedy recovery for the injured.
Reprted by Maged Samir, Lucy Awad, Mariam Rifaat, Tereza Hanna
25 October 2014