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Amnesty: Egypt used banned cluster bombs in Sinai

Cluster bombs [Don S. Montgomery, USN/Wikipedia]

Amnesty International published a report which confirms the Egyptian authorities’ use of banned cluster bombs during its recent raids on northern Sinai.

“On 21 February, the Egyptian military released a video on its official Twitter account of what it claimed were improvised explosive devices planted by ‘terrorist elements’. However, Amnesty has analysed this video and confirmed it shows an unexploded US-made Mk 118 cluster munition, which could only have been dropped by the Egyptian air force,” the rights group said.

Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Deputy Director, said:

This new video confirms our worst fears, that the Egyptian Armed Forces are using cluster bombs in North Sinai. This shows a horrifying disregard for human life and international law.

“Claims that these weapons were planted by members of armed groups just do not stand up to scrutiny.”

In July 2017, Daesh’s Amaq news released a video claiming an F-16 fighter jet dropping two cluster bombs. Amnesty experts analysed the video, the release said, concluding that it had not been doctored and that the F-16s shown in the video “displayed the Egyptian flag on their tails”.

Amnesty: Egypt’s human rights crisis escalated in 2017

“Cluster bombs are banned under international law for a very good reason,” Bounaim stressed.

    • Cluster munitions are delivered by rockets or artillery which contain smaller explosive submunitions that spread out randomly over a wide area. Many of these submunitions often fail to detonate and can remain unexploded on the ground, posing a threat years after a conflict ends.

According to US Department of Defence documentation obtained by Human Rights Watch and cited in their cluster munition survey, Egypt had 321,000 submunitions in Rockeye bombs stockpiled as of 2007.

On 9 February, the Egyptian Armed Forces announced the commencement of the military operation “Sinai 2018”. They claimed the operation aimed to “end terrorism” by targeting armed groups and their weapons depots in North and Central Sinai. The military has requested the urgent deployment of medical reinforcements to north Sinai and neighbouring governorates given the increased military presence in the area.

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