In a swift act of retaliation for a deadly Monday (September 11th) "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) attack on a police convoy in Sinai, the Egyptian army on Tuesday staged a series of dawn raids targeting the group's sites.
“The army at dawn Tuesday conducted many sorties on the group’s sites in response to the attack,” said Egyptian journalist Hatem al-Jahmi, who specialises in military affairs.
“Ground forces targeted an ISIS terror cell in Balaa village, Rafah,” he told Al-Mashareq, adding that the number of ISIS casualties has not yet been released.
The army raids came in response to Monday's attack on a police convoy west of the North Sinai provincial capital of al-Arish.
ISIS affiliate Wilayat Sinai claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 18 Egyptian policemen and wounded four others.
The militants started their attack by firing a mortar at a police vehicle. A suicide bomber then attacked the convoy with a vehicle packed with explosives.
After that, the militants fired a barrage of bullets on the Egyptian forces, wounding a senior police officer in the leg and killing another officer.
Wilayat Sinai said it had seized a four-wheel drive police vehicle and admitted to opening fire on an ambulance and wounding its crew.
“ISIS has recently been dealt a series of blows that have undermined its ability to confront the army, and that was why they targeted the less-armed police forces,” said Khaled Okasha, a retired Egyptian army officer who serves on the National Council to Confront Terrorism and Extremism.
The UN Security Council expressed its strong condemnation of the “heinous and cowardly” attack, as condolences poured in from foreign governments and religious entities.
In a statement, the UN expressed the deep sympathy of member states and offered condolences to the victims’ families and the government of Egypt, wishing a speedy recovery for those who were injured.
“Islam has nothing to do with those sinful terrorists who are wreaking havoc on the land,” said Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Shawqi Allam.
He called for strongly and decisively confronting all those who seek to undermine the country’s security and harm its citizens, urging all Egyptians to confront terrorism and uproot it from the country.