SUVs in parts of Sinai amid crackdown on militancy

CAIRO: Sport Utility Vehicles have been banned in certain areas in Sinai per a Sunday decision by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab amid efforts to prevent militant attacks in the restive peninsula.

SUVs and similar vehicles are mostly used in Sinai for their ability to be driven off-road, in sand and mountainous terrains. They have been used as car bombs and in many attacks launched by Sinai-based militants against army posts and personnel.

The restricted areas are yet to be determined by the Armed Forces Operations Authority, according to a Saturday Cabinet statement.

Following the Sunday decision, many Sinai Bedouins and private companies have started transferring their SUVs to other governorates.

Security forces will confiscate any SUV found in the restricted areas once they are detected, a security source told Youm7.

The army has widened its security measures in Sinai as numerous attacks have hit military utilities and killed dozens of soldiers.

Some 252 “terrorists’” have been killed over the past 10 days in reaction to simultaneous attacks on several army checkpoints, killing 17 personnel earlier in July, according to the military.

Hundreds of lengthy tunnels used for smuggling in persons, weapons and equipment between Egypt’s Rafah border and Gaza Strip have been discovered and destroyed by the army.

The pace of attacks on army and police forces in the peninsula has increased since the 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

The Sinai Province group, previously known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for most attacks targeting the army in Sinai, as well as killings of some Bedouins over claims they collaborated with the military and Israel.

Additional reporting by Hend Mokhtar and Mohamed Hussein

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