CAIRO, (PNA/Xinhua) — A Sinai-based Islamist Jihadist group claimed responsibility on Sunday for the recent bomb attack targeting Egypt’s interior minister, as the army pressed security operations in the peninsula for the second consecutive day.
The Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (supporters of Jerusalem) group said in a statement that it was behind the failed suicide attack against Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim.
On Thursday, Ibrahim survived an assassination attempt when a bomb exploded near his convoy, but one recruit was killed and 24 other people were injured.
The Jihadist group, which had claimed responsibility for rocket attacks launched from Sinai on Israel last year, vowed further attacks against the interior minister and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Sisi.
The group blamed Sisi and Ibrahim for killing hundreds in the dispersal operation against the supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on Aug. 14.
The group’s statement, which came three days after the bomb attack, raised doubts about its credibility, official news agency MENA quoted a military source as saying. The statement may be an attempt to mislead the police from arresting the real perpetrators, according to the source.
“It may be also a reply to the successful security operation carried out in Sinai by the army and police in order to seize terrorists and outlaws in the peninsula,” he added.
Some 80 persons, who are suspected in the failed attempt to assassinate Ibrahim, have been arrested, said the source.
In the largest operation in Sinai to eradicate the terrorists’ hideouts, the armed forces for the second day poured more troops and armors “to purge Sinai of terrorism,” the armed forces said.
Apache helicopters have hit targets in northern Sinai near Rafah border crossing, the only terminal to the outside world for the Gaza Strip ruled by Islamist Hamas movement, the security source told Xinhua.
On Saturday, the army said “nine people were killed, nine other militants were arrested, and three weapon warehouses were destroyed.”
The military operation on Sunday left 11 killed or injured, MENA quoted a security source as saying, adding that 10 militants were arrested.
Ahmed Aly, armed forces spokesman, said the troops surrounded villages where militants had taken haven, and the operation would “last several days to regain security and stability.”
The police and the army have destroyed 118 focal points of the militants, as well as 33 vehicles used in storming the army and police check points, Aly said in a statement posed on the armed forces Facebook page.
Security situation in Sinai has deteriorated since the ouster of Morsi in July, as militants launched almost daily attacks against security forces in recent weeks. The army then intensified operations to uproot terrorists and hardline Jihadist movements in the peninsula.
Moustafa Hegazi, presidential political advisor, said in televised statement on Sunday that the number of terrorists in Sinai has increased from 1,000 to 12,000 during the one-year rule of Morsi.