16 militants killed in Sinai operation, says Egypt’s army

Daesh has killed scores of citizens and security personnel in Egypt. (AFP)
Updated 12 March 2018
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16 militants killed in Sinai operation, says Egypt’s army

CAIRO: Egypt’s military said Sunday 16 militants, an officer and a soldier were killed in the past four days during a major military operation against Daesh militants in Sinai.
The army launched a sweeping campaign after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who is standing in elections for his second term this month, gave them a three-month deadline to crush Daesh in Sinai.
He issued his ultimatum in November after suspected Daesh gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers in a Sinai mosque associated with Sufi Muslim mystics.
Since the military, then led by El-Sisi, ousted President Muhammad Mursi in 2013, security forces have sought to quell attacks by the Egypt branch of Daesh.
The militants have killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in North Sinai but also elsewhere in Egypt.
They have also killed scores of Christians in church bombings and shootings, as well as bombing a Russian airliner carrying tourists from an Egyptian resort in 2015, killing all 224 people on board.
The military says it has evidence Daesh has sought to move members to Sinai following its defeats in Iraq and Syria.
On Saturday, an Egyptian court sentenced 10 people to death and five others to life in prison for forming a “terrorist cell” to plot attacks on security forces and other institutions.
The state-run MENA news agency said the defendants are affiliated with the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group and are accused of aiming to assault security personnel and state institutions, target Egypt’s Christians and disrupt public order.
The verdict comes after consultation with the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s top religious authority, over preliminary death sentences handed to the defendants earlier. The consultation is a formality followed by courts in the cases of capital punishment.
MENA said three of the 15 defendants were sentenced in absentia. Life sentences in Egypt are equal to 25 years. All of the sentences are subject to appeal.


UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

Khalifa Haftar. (Supplied)
Updated 21 August 2018
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UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

  • Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar
  • Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees

TRIPOLI: The UN has called on Libya’s internationally recognized government to crack down on armed groups obstructing the work of state institutions in the chaos-wracked country.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) late on Sunday night expressed its “strong condemnation of the violence, intimidation and obstruction to the work of Libya’s sovereign institutions by militiamen.”
It called on the UN-backed Government of National Accord to “prosecute those responsible for these criminal actions.”
The GNA’s military and security institutions have failed to place limits on the powerful militias that sprung up in the turmoil that followed the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Several state institutions, including those in Tripoli, have been regular targets of harassment and intimidation by armed groups technically operating under the GNA’s Interior Ministry.
Members of militias “nominally acting under the Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Accord are attacking sovereign institutions and preventing them from being able to operate effectively,” UNSMIL said.
Last week, the GNA’s National Oil Corp. said men from the Interior Ministry had forced their way into the headquarters of Brega Petroleum Marketing Company — a distribution outfit — to “arrest” its chief.
The Libyan Investment Authority, the GNA-managed sovereign wealth fund, recently moved from its downtown Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees.
UNSMIL said it would work with the international community and the GNA to “investigate the possibility of bringing sanctions against those interfering with or threatening the operations of any sovereign institution.”
Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
A myriad of militias,terrorist groups and people traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the North African country.