The Egyptian army has arrested a number of suspects believed to have been involved in the kidnapping of soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula, a senior official said on Monday morning. Some of the men wanted for questioning fled the scene and are being pursued by the authorities, having been surrounded by soldiers, who have exchanged fire with the suspects.
The suspects, it is claimed,"are funded by a sovereign party". Commentators have suggested that this refers to the UAE, which it is alleged helps to fund men loyal to senior Fatah "strongman" Mohammed Dahlan.
The official added that the military operation to clear Sinai of terrorists is ongoing and will remain so until all militants are removed from the area. He pointed out that what is effectively military rule is being extended over the peninsula and that entry and exit points have been closed.
Calling on all Egyptians, including the media, not to criticise the army's anti-terrorism activities, the official said that some details of the operation must remain secret in order that it is not compromised. The army, he insisted, will not negotiate with terrorists.