Egypt church attacks motivated by IS decline in Sinai: experts

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt

The recent terrorist attacks on Egyptian churches in different provinces are motivated by the decline of the Sinai-based affiliates of the Islamic State militant group in the Sinai Peninsula due to massive security campaigns, Egyptian security and political experts have said.

As the Christian minority worshippers were marking the Palm Sunday in the Muslim-majority state earlier during the day, a blast and a suicide bombing at two churches in Gharbiya and Alexandria province northern Egypt killed at least 44 and wounded over 120.

Egypt has been fighting a terrorist wave that killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the military removed former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and blacklisted his Muslim Brotherhood group as “a terrorist organisation”.

“Mostly claimed by a Sinai-based group loyal to the Islamic State (IS) regional militia, the terrorist attacks focused on security forces in restive North Sinai in the beginning, but after massive security raids that killed hundreds of militants and arrested a similar number of suspects, they started to target the Coptic minority in the most populous Arab country.

“Targeting Copts proves the failure of terrorists in confronting the security forces in the northern part of Sinai Peninsula. They focused on Sinai in the beginning but their influence and existence eventually declined,”security expert Salah Samak told Xinhua.

Egypt’s military intelligence chief, Gen. Mohamed Farag al-Shahhat, said during a military-held symposium in February that at least 500 terrorists have been killed since a massive anti-terror campaign, known as “The Martyr’s Right,” started in September 2015.

The military forces in cooperation with the police have recently announced eliminating terrorists at Central Sinai’s Mount Halal area, a part of North Sinai province bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

“Despite the terror blasts, terrorism in Egypt in general and in Sinai in particular is declining, which shows success of the security forces in their anti-terror war, and this is why the terrorist moved to target Copts,” said the security expert, noting that there is no such a thing as 100-per cent security against a suicide bombing in any state across the world.

“Those bombers who target churches are marginal members of the terrorist group who have been newly recruited to be easily convinced to kill Christians,” he continued, stressing that fresh militant recruits could easily be misled to kill innocent civilians of other religions. -Xinhua



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