At least 14 civilians killed by booby traps in Egypt’s Sinai

More than a dozen civilians were killed in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula over the past two weeks from explosive devices laid down in their homes by militants. (File/Getty Images)
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Updated 25 October 2020

At least 14 civilians killed by booby traps in Egypt’s Sinai

  • Daesh militants in July attacked several villages in the town of Bir Al-Abd, forcing people to flee their homes
  • The militants had laid booby traps in several houses that killed at least 14 people after they returned to their homes

EL-ARISH: More than a dozen civilians, including women and children, were killed in Egypt’s restive northern Sinai Peninsula over the past two weeks from explosive devices laid down in their homes by militants, security and medical officials said Sunday.
Daesh militants in July attacked several villages in the town of Bir Al-Abd, forcing people to flee their homes. The military then secured the villages in August and allowed residents to return to their homes a few weeks later, the officials said.
The militants, however, had laid booby traps in several houses that killed at least 14 people, including six from the same family late on Saturday, officials said. The causalities included women and children.
At least ten others have been wounded since Oct. 12 and were taken to the town’s hospital for treatment, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Bir Al-Abd was the site of a horrific extremist attack on a mosque in 2017 that killed over 300 worshippers, some of them fathers praying with their young sons. The tribes of North Sinai have been heavily targeted by militants who view their veneration of Muslim saints and shrines as heretical, forcing a mass exodus of residents from the impoverished area that has long been underdeveloped by the government.
Violence and instability there intensified after the military overthrew the country’s president in 2013 amid nationwide protests against the Muslim Brotherhood group’s divisive rule. Extremist militants have since carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and minority Christians.
The conflict has largely taken place out of public view, with journalists and outside observers barred from the area. The conflict has so far not expanded into the southern end of the peninsula where popular Red Sea tourist resorts are located.
In February 2018, the military launched a massive operation in Sinai that also encompassed parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along the country’s western border with Libya. Since then, the pace of Daesh attacks in Sinai’s north has diminished.


Iran shuts government offices, tightening virus restrictions

Updated 27 November 2020

Iran shuts government offices, tightening virus restrictions

  • The report did not specify how long the closures would last
  • It asked Iranians to postpone any planned visits to government offices

TEHRAN: Iran on Friday announced that all government offices will effectively close and operate with only essential staff, further tightening coronavirus measures as the country struggles to contain its most widespread wave of infection yet.
Starting this Saturday — the first day of Iran’s workweek — state TV said “only those employees who need to be present will be at work” in government offices. Managers will make the call on who must still come to work.
The report did not specify how long the closures would last, but asked Iranians to postpone any planned visits to government offices.
Infections have soared in recent months, and on Friday, Iran again set a record for new virus cases in a single day with 14,051 cases, bringing the total to 922,397.
Iran has also recorded more than 400 daily virus deaths since last Saturday, the same day new tightened restrictions went into effect. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said the death toll on Friday reached 47,095, after 406 people died since Thursday.
Since Saturday, some government offices and organizations had closed or began working with less than 30% of their employees, while banks, post offices, communications and other utilities worked with half their staff.
Those new lockdown measures also included shuttering most businesses, shops, malls, and restaurants, and are set to last two weeks.
Iran’s government had recently resisted shutting down the country in an attempt to salvage an economy cratered by unprecedented American sanctions, which effectively bar Iran from selling its oil internationally. The Trump administration reimposed sanctions in 2018 after withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Earlier this month, authorities ordered a month-long nightly curfew for businesses in Tehran and 30 other major cities and towns, asking nonessential shops to keep their workers home. Still, enforcement in the sprawling metropolis remains a challenge.