Egypt crisis: Sisi vows to uproot militants after checkpoint killings

Mr Sisi said there are foreign powers that want to 'break the back of Egypt'

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The Independent Online

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said that an assault on an army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula that killed around 30 troops was a “foreign-funded operation” and vowed to take drastic action against militants.

In thundering remarks delivered before cameras before a military funeral for the slain troops yesterday, Mr Sisi said there are foreign powers that want to “break the back of Egypt”. He vowed to take drastic measures to uproot the militants, and said Egypt is engaged in an “extensive war” that will last a long time.

“There is a big conspiracy against us,” he said while standing with army commanders, before the funeral in 

Militants on Friday launched a complex assault on the checkpoint which involved a car bomb, possibly detonated by a suicide attacker, rocket-propelled grenades, and roadside bombs placed to target rescuers.

Egypt declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew from 5pm to 7am in the restive northern part of the peninsula after the assault, the deadliest against the army in decades.

No one has yet admitted carrying out the attack. Mr Sisi said its aim was to “break the will of Egypt and the Egyptians as well as the will of the Egyptian army, which is considered a pillar of Egypt”. He called on Egyptians “to be aware of what is being hatched against us” and to be “vigilant and steadfast with the army and the police”.

Mr Sisi claimed some success in the fight against militants, saying “dozens of terrorists have been killed in the past weeks and months ... hundreds of terrorists have been liquidated”.

Islamist militants have been battling security forces in Sinai for a decade, but the violence spiked after the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last year amid massive protests against him. The attacks have spread to other parts of Egypt, with militants targeting police in Cairo and the Nile Delta.

The militants have portrayed the attacks as retaliation for a crackdown by security forces in which hundreds of Morsi supporters have been killed in street clashes. (AP)