Warship with the flag of the Egyptian Navy.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
An investigation is under way in Egypt into a November 12 incident during which Islamic State fighters hijacked an Egyptian navy missile boat. The insurgents planned to then attack and hijack an Israeli ship and to use it as leverage for the release of Palestinian prisoners, Arab media reported Monday.
The hijacked ship departed from Damietta Port in northern Egypt. An Islamic State fighter replaced the boat’s intended captain by staging a car accident in which the latter was supposedly involved in. Islamic State fighters then hijacked the ship as it was departing from the canal, according to an Egyptian report.
The Egyptian navy began suspecting wrongdoings when the hijacked ship failed to identify itself.
Broadcasts from the boat later revealed the identity of the captain, tying him to Islamic State, and confirming the navy’s concerns.
Egypt sent out reinforcement boats to the scene, and the hijacked ship was neutralized after an exchange of fire. Eight of the ship’s sailors have been missing since.
Five soldiers were injured in the incident in addition to the eight soldiers declared missing, according to the Egyptian military.
Three Islamic State-captained boats attacked the missile ship off the shores of Damietta. The Egyptian navy, with the assistance of Egyptian air force helicopters, attacked the three boats and killed some Islamic State fighters and arrested 32 others, the military added.
“The Egyptian security forces are looking into the possibility that a foreign country gave logistical assistance to the Islamic State militants,” Egyptian military sources said.
Abu al-Insaari, a journalist acquainted with Islamic State, said that the hijackers were looking to achieve two goals: “To attack a ship transporting 200 Egyptian soldiers to northern Sinai, and to attack an Israeli ship in order to kidnap its crew for use as leverage in negotiations with Israel for the release of Palestinian prisoners.”
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