CAIRO: The security measures outside the attacked North Sinai hotel, which was hosting judges overseeing the parliamentary elections, were “not enough,” a survivor told CBC TV channel Tuesday.
Tariq Naguib, the head of a sub-polling station in North Sinai, was one of some 130 judges operating in the Swiss Inn Hotel, which was attacked by a car bomb and assailants, causing the death of at least seven people.
The second round of the elections, held on two days, ended on Monday. After that, the number of securing armored vehicles and forces was “reduced,” according to Naguib, who said that “security should end when the judges leave.”
Naguib likened the intensified security at the two-storey hotel when they arrived as a “state of war,” adding, “but once the polling stations were closed and results announced,” everything disappeared.
The hotel stands on a distance of 600 meters in Arish City. “It is a catastrophe that a car bomb reached the door of the hotel,” Naguib commented.
“We as Egypt’s judges went to send a message of hope to North Sinai residents. We did our job, but those who did not should be held accountable.”
Two judges, four conscripts and a civilian were killed in Tuesday’s attacks. One of the victim, judges Omar Hammad, was quoted days before his death as saying “although I can choose where to observe elections, I chose North Sinai, to encourage youth judges to fulfill their message despite difficult security conditions.”
The attacks on the hotel began when a car bomb approached the 2-story hotel, and was detonated by forces, according to army statement on Facebook. At the same time, two other men infiltrated into the hotel; one detonated his explosive in the kitchen using an explosive belt, and the other sneaked to a room and opened fire randomly causing the immediate death of a judge.
Media lashes out at “poor” security outside Arish hotel
A number of TV presenters questioned security measures taken to secure judges monitoring the elections in North Sinai after Tuesday attacks, calling on authorities to send delinquents to justice.
“All security forces tasked with securing the hotel should be addressed with questions about adopted security measures…why they were reduced?” Lamis el-Hadidy said during her TV show on CBC channel.
Amr Abdel Hamid, a TV host on TEN channel, said that the hotel should have been a “fortress” in terms of security as it hosts some 130 judges observing the elections amid militancy threats prevailing in the area.
ONTV Anchor Gaber el-Karmouty said “we should stop saying that other countries are facing similar attacks, because this is our area and we knew judges are being targeted like police and army…this means there was a defect in the security plan.”
TV Broadcaster Ibrahim Eissa said that the terrorists who plotted for Tuesdays’ attack by distracting forces with a car bomb, so others can enter the hotel “have criminal imagination,” adding, that’s why “forces should think like terrorists and act like police officers.”
“I invite police officers to watch American action movies, because terrorists watch and learn from them,” said Essa.
The Sinai Province militant group, formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis before pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, has claimed responsibility for judges’ hotel blast. The army announced the three attackers were killed.
It was not the first time judges were attacked in North Sinai, as in May, three judges were shot dead and three others were injured in an attack on a bus traversing in the restive area. This tip of the peninsula has seen a significant rise in militant attacks since the 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
Youm7 quoted judicial sources as saying that the Attorney General is following up on investigations into the attack. The newspaper also quoted security officials who ensured a “magnified security plan” has been taken into consideration to secure judges during the run-off round.