SCAF convenes to analyze North Sinai attacks; EU, UK express solidarity
Top officials attend funeral prayer for North Sinai victims - YOUM7

CAIRO: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces convened to analyze the recent attacks in North Sinai, according to a Friday statement by military spokesperson Mohamed Samir. The statement emphasized the army’s dedication to securing state efforts to achieve stability, development and completion of the 2013 roadmap.

Militants carried out a series of attacks in North Sinai Thursday evening, killing at least 29 soldiers and civilians. Meanwhile, Egypt prepares for two important events in March: an international economic summit scheduled for March 13-15, and parliamentary elections, the final step in the roadmap, which will begin March 21.

“These continued attacks undermine Egypt’s stability and economic development. The fight against terrorism will remain the EU’s priority and, together with our partners, we need to jointly tackle this common threat,” the EU said in a Friday statement, adding that it stands by Egypt in the face of “multiple challenges.”

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who will cut his visit to Ethiopia short as a result of the attacks, told reporters in Addis Ababa Friday that “Egypt is fighting the strongest secret organization established in the past couple of centuries.”

“Secret arms, secret ideas, secret tools, many, many things. And Egyptians rebelled against them… there is a price we are paying. Egypt is paying,” Sisi said.

“There is a much higher price that Egypt would have had to pay if that condition continued for two, three or four months,” he added, urging the media to “pay attention to the morale” it instills into people’s minds.

For his part, U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond strongly condemned the “terrorist attacks” against the Egyptian security forces, expressing his country’s solidarity with the Egyptian government and people.

Spokesperson Samir said Thursday evening the attacks comes in retaliation for successful recent strikes on “terrorist hubs” in North Sinai, and as a result of the “failure of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporting groups to spread chaos during the fourth mark of the January 25 Revolution.”

The U.S. expressed condoling sentiments, and several other countries condemned the aggression.

Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM,) which has called itself Wilayat Sinai since it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November, claimed responsibility for the attacks on affiliated Twitter accounts.

On Monday, the group posted a video of the abduction and execution of an officer.

The most recent wide-scale operation by ABM was in October, where over 30 soldiers were killed in a car bomb attack followed heavy fire by ABM militants.

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