Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Egyptian Army claimed it has apprehended a terrorist cell that carried out attacks in the country and is affiliated with terrorist groups in Syria.
Egyptian security forces captured members of a “terrorist cell complicit in several terrorist operations in Egypt” and that received training in Syria before returning to Egypt to commit various crimes, Interior Ministry Spokesman Hany Abdel Lattif told the Aswat Masriya website on Saturday.
The report also cited the Egyptian state news agency MENA, which quoted an anonymous security source as saying that the cell was made up of five members who were affiliated with Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq.
Security forces also arrested 34 others from four other terrorist cells, the ministry said.
A roadside bomb exploded on an army armored vehicle on Saturday in Sinai along the el-Arish-Rafah road, wounding a soldier and a civilian, a security source told Aswat Masriya.
On Friday night, unknown assailants wounded seven soldiers in an attack on an armored vehicle near al-Arish, sources told Ahram Online.
Meanwhile, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said, “I explicitly affirm that the Gulf security is a red line, inseparable from the Egyptian national security,” in an interview published by the Kuwait News Agency on Saturday.
Referring to terrorism, Sisi also stressed the need for “re-guiding the religious rhetoric and ridding it of incorrect themes that contradict the basis of the Islamic religion.”
Sisi said the image of Islam needs to be repaired and shown with regard to its tolerance and moderation. “We shall be questioned about this responsibility by the Almighty [in the afterlife],” he insisted.
Regarding ongoing operations against terrorism in Sinai, he claimed that the attacks were being “backed from abroad.”
“However, the Egyptian State has taken rapid measures, such as enforcing a state of emergency, a curfew, protecting public and vital installations with participation of the armed forces and the policemen.”
Asked about protests in Egypt, Sisi responded that these demonstrations “do not represent the majority of the Egyptians; they represent a very small minority seeking to defy the regime and incite the public.”
“However, I assure you that the Egyptian people is aware of such bids and will not be responsive and I would like to assure you, the Egyptian people and all peace and stability loving Arab peoples that the Egyptian government, with the backing of the people, adopts a long-term policy and will remain steadfast, as people and the army, as a single hand, defending and safeguarding the homeland,” continued Sisi.
Regarding relations with the West, Sisi said they have improved “after the picture has become clearer ... realizing the changes that reflect the free will of the Egyptian people.”
He then specifically pointed to Russia as “a key international power bonded with historic ties with Egypt and we are keen on developing these ties in various sectors.”
Sisi noted that relations between Kuwait and Egypt remain solid and that the Gulf state ranks fifth among the list of foreign countries that invest in Egypt.