Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ordered his military to use “complete brutal force” to restore security and stability in the restive Sinai Peninsula within three months, following a deadly attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people.
“It is your responsibility to secure and stabilise Sinai within the next three months,” Sisi said addressing his chief of staff, Mahmoud Hegazy, in a speech which he gave during a celebration marking the birthday of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
“You can use all brute force necessary,” he stressed.
“Egypt is facing a comprehensive war that seeks to destroy the state,” he continued, citing the presence of foreign forces supporting groups in the region with “arms and money.”
The Egyptian leader pledged: “In three months, with God’s grace, and with your help and sacrifices and those of the police, Egypt will restore stability and security in Sinai.”
Last Friday, attackers bombed a mosque in the town of Bir Al-Abed in North Sinai before opening fire on fleeing worshippers. The 309 victims were reported to have included at least 27 children. Some 128 people were injured in the attack.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is considered the worst militant attack in Egypt’s modern history. However, Egyptian authorities claimed that the gunmen were carrying a Daesh flag.
Following the bloody attack, social media activists have launched an attack against Sisi criticising his “failure to provide the security to Egypt despite all the powers and authorities he had obtained.”
Egypt has been battling a Daesh insurgency since mid-2013, when Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely-elected president, was ousted and imprisoned in a military coup. Since then, hundreds of Egyptian security personnel have been killed in attacks across Sinai, especially in the peninsula’s volatile northeastern quadrant, which shares borders with both Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Friday’s attack was a shift for Sinai militants who have mostly focused on targeting police and soldiers on the peninsula. Since December 2016 they have also begun hitting Coptic Christian churches and pilgrims on the mainland.