Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ordered the security forces to restore “security and stability” in the restive northern Sinai within three months, days after the country was rocked with the deadliest terrorist attack in its modern history.
In a televised ceremony to mark the birthday of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday, Sisi ordered his new military chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Farid Hegazy, to use “all brute force” against the militants.
“I am mandating Maj. Gen. Mohammed Farid Hegazy before you and the entire people of Egypt to restore security and stability in Sinai,” said Sisi.
“With God’s benevolence and your efforts and sacrifices, you and the police will restore security and use all brute force, all brute force.”
It was not immediately clear what the use of such force would entail, but it suggested a scorched earth tactic that many of Sisi’s loyalists in the media have been calling for.
At least 305 people, including 27 children, were killed and over 130 others injured in the shooting attack and bombing at al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd near the North Sinai provincial capital of el-Arish on November 24.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it had the hallmarks of the Daesh-affiliated Velayat Sinai terrorist group.
The Sinai Peninsula has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, after a deadly terrorist attack left 33 Egyptian soldiers dead.
Over the past few years, militants have been carrying out anti-government activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt that erupted after the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup in July 2013.
Velayat Sinai has claimed responsibility for most of the assaults. The group later expanded its attacks to target members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community as well as foreigners visiting the country. That has prompted the government to impose the state of emergency and widen a controversial crackdown, which critics say has mostly targeted dissidents.