Cairo foils bid to attack church in Rafah

Updated 08 January 2013
0

Cairo foils bid to attack church in Rafah

CAIRO: The Egyptian army foiled a bid early yesterday to attack a Coptic church in the Rafah border town with Gaza as the minority Christian community began celebrating its Christmas, MENA news agency reported.
“Army units foiled an attack against the Rafah church at 1 a.m. and seized a car packed with explosives and weapons near the church,” the official news agency said.
Another car carrying masked men sped away as the patrols seized the explosives-packed Toyota vehicle, MENA said.
In September, residents and officials reported that several Coptic families from Rafah had fled from the Sinai peninsula town that borders the Gaza Strip after receiving death threats from militants. Egyptian security sources suggested, meanwhile, that the planned attack could have been aimed at a military camp under construction near the church, which has been targeted in the past by militants.
They said the church has been lying abandoned for the past two years after it was torched in the aftermath of the countrywide uprising that toppled the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the planned attack but one security source said the perpetrators were “probably the militants whom security forces have been tracking for months.”
Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi, who hails from the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, visited the Sinai peninsula in October to meet with and reassure Coptic families, telling them “your security is our security”.
One of the worst incidents of violence occurred on Jan. 1, 2011 when 23 people were killed in an attack on a Coptic church in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
Sinai is a scarcely populated peninsula and home to lucrative tourist resorts. It is a major transit point for arms smuggling to Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas group. Security in the desert and mountainous region collapsed after the uprising that toppled Mubarak.
Since his downfall, several militant attacks have targeted police and soldiers, including a brazen Aug. 5 ambush on an army outpost that killed 16 soldiers. The military launched a wide-ranging campaign after that attack to flush out militants, but drive-by shootings have continued.
And on Friday security officials announced the seizure in Sinai of US-made anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles destined for Gaza, where militants have said they would acquire more weapons to use against Israel.


Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

Updated 24 April 2018
0

Daesh threatens Iraq polling stations ahead of parliamentary vote

BAGHDAD: Daesh has threatened to attack Iraqi polling stations and voters during parliamentary elections next month.

In a message posted to the Telegram messaging app on Sunday, Daesh spokesman Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir called on Sunni Iraqis to boycott the May 12 polls, the first since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared victory over Daesh in December.

Extremist groups in Iraq have targeted every election since the 2003 US-led invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein and paved the way for Shiites to dominate every government since.

Under a system of checks and balances designed to avoid a return to dictatorship, the winner of the May 12 elections will have to form alliances with other Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish lists to secure a majority.

An incumbent prime minister, his ousted predecessor and a paramilitary chief instrumental in defeating Daesh are the three favorites vying for Iraq’s premiership.

Two of the favorites topping the lists were among the architects of victory against Daesh, which in 2014 seized a third of Iraq’s territory in a lightning offensive.

The incumbent prime minister, 66 year-old Abadi, took over the reins from Nuri Al-Maliki in September 2014 at the high watermark of the security crisis.

The fightback which allowed Abadi to declare Iraq’s victory over Daesh in December, has silenced critics of his lack of military experience.

An engineering graduate and holder of a doctorate from the University of Manchester in Britain, Abadi is from the same Dawa party as his predecessor Maliki.

As the official head of Iraq’s military, Abadi has bolstered morale by drafting in foreign trainers, who have helped professionalize tens of thousands of soldiers.

Under his watch and backed by a US-led international coalition, the army has banished Daesh from all its urban strongholds in Iraq. 

The Iraqi military has also pushed back the Kurds in the north’s oil-rich Kirkuk province, bolstering Abadi’s status as frontrunner going into the election.

“He has a popular base which transcends confessional and ethnic lines. He offers a narrative as a statesman and he is not tarnished by corruption,” said Iraqi political scientist Essam Al-Fili.

Haddad said: “Abadi remains the single strongest contender but not strong enough to win anything close to a majority.”

His main contender is Hadi Al-Ameri — a leader of Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary network that played a pivotal role in defeating Daesh.

During Maliki’s 2010-2014 term as premier, Ameri was a lawmaker and then transport minister, but he was blocked in a bid to head the Interior Ministry by an American veto.