An Egyptian soldier stands near the Egyptian national flag and the Israeli flag at the Taba crossing between Egypt and Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egypt said on Saturday it had extended by three months a state of emergency imposed on parts of northern Sinai in October after Islamist militants stepped up attacks in the peninsula bordering Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal.
Insurgents have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen in Sinai since mid-2013, lashing out after then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi following protests. Sisi went on to be elected president last year.
The decision, announced in a statement from the presidency, will be implemented in Rafah, al-Arish, Sheik Zuweid and surrounding areas starting on Sunday. It also extends a night-time curfew in place in the same areas.
The measure was first introduced after 33 security personnel were killed in an attack in late October at a checkpoint in northern Sinai. It was extended for another three months in January.
The attack was claimed by Sinai Province, an affiliate of Islamic State, which earlier changed its name from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. The group, which aims to topple the government in Cairo, has mainly focused on targets in Sinai.
The destruction of tunnels into the Gaza Strip and the creation of a security buffer zone in northern Sinai last year has stoked resentment among residents, who say they rely on the smuggling trade through the tunnels and complain of neglect by the state.