CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Saturday that a suicide bombing, by a suspected extremist, which killed 30 soldiers in the Sinai peninsula was carried out with “external support”.
Egypt imposed a state of emergency across parts of Sinai as the military pounded suspected extremist after Friday’s suicide car bombing.
The suicide attack was the deadliest on Egyptian security forces since the army deposed president Mohamed Morsi last year, to the fury of his supporters. The state of emergency in the north and centre of the Sinai will remain in place for three months, the president’s office said.
A curfew is in force from 5pm to 7am.
Egypt also announced it would close the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip, the only entry to the Palestinian territory not controlled by Israel.
Witnesses told AFP that new security checkpoints were erected in Rafah and the north Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid.
“The army and police will take all necessary measures to tackle the dangers of terrorism and its financing, to preserve the security of the region… and protect the lives of citizens,” a presidential decree said.
Despite killing or arresting many militants, the army has so far been unable to eradicate them in a massive operation involving attack helicopters and tanks.
The military launched fresh air strikes Saturday in northern Sinai, killing eight suspected militants, security officials said.
Sisi, the army chief who toppled Morsi and was later elected head of state, chaired a meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Saturday.
After the meeting, the president said Friday’s attack was carried out with “external support” in order to “break the will of the Egyptian people and army”.