Egyptian security forces are on the offensive against militants after eight policemen were killed on Wednesday at a checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, centre of a long-running jihadist insurgency, the interior ministry said.
“Terrorist elements targeted a checkpoint west of El-Arish early this morning… The exchange of fire killed five terrorist elements and eight police were martyred,” a ministry statement said.
Some militants escaped and security forces are following “their movements”, the ministry added.
A security source said reinforcements had been dispatched to the checkpoint near El-Arish, capital of North Sinai province.
“The checkpoint is currently surrounded by the army and police,” he said.
A medical source said three members of the Central Security Force, a paramilitary force under the control of the interior ministry, were also wounded in the attack and taken to El-Arish public hospital.
Egyptian state television said there were fears the death toll could rise as there were reports of attacks on multiple checkpoints.
The attack came at the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
No group has claimed responsibility so far.
Egypt has for years been battling insurgents in the North Sinai affiliated with the Islamic State group.
Hundreds of police officers and soldiers have been killed in militant attacks which intensified after the army’s ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide offensive against the militants focused mainly on the North Sinai.
According to official figures, around 650 militants have been killed since the start of the operation, while the army has lost some 50 soldiers.
No independent statistics are available and the region is largely cut off to journalists making verification of casualty figures extremely difficult.
‘Back at square one’: Sudan protest leaders plan fresh June 30 march
Protests will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the coup that brought former president Omar al-Bashir to power
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association announced plans to hold a demonstration next week demanding the handover of power to civilians.
Plans for the protest comes after the country’s ruling generals rejected an Ethiopian proposal government.
The protests are planned to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the coup that toppled Sudan’s last elected government, and brought former president Omar al-Bashir to power.
A spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, Ismail al-Tag, addressed the media on Monday, calling for marches next week to demand the handover of power to civilians.
“We are calling and preparing for mass demonstrations on June 30 to make sure the military council hears the people’s voice in the streets and the Sudanese people will continue their revolution until it (council) meet their demands and reaches a civilian country”, he said.
Head of the African program at al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Dr. Amany el-Taweel said;
“Yes, we are back at square one because this is not the first time they (military council) cancel the understandings. This is, indeed, the second time, as they cancelled the deal before, right after the sit-in break-up. I believe they are using time and waiting for the African Union’s initiative, especially after the pressure from the street on them decreased due to the break-up of the military headquarters sit-in.”
Sudan’s military rulers on Monday turned down the Ethiopian proposal for a power-sharing deal with the opposition coalition.
The ruling generals said they would prefer a unified proposal from the African Union and Ethiopia.
National Oil Company warns that any attempt to disrupt the sector would escalate unrest
“Any deliberate disruption of oil sector operations will severely impact national revenue streams, potentially render NOC in contravention of contractual obligations
Libya’s National Oil Company has warned that any bid to tamper with the sector could escalate unrest in the country after the parliamentary speaker called for a halt to production. In a statement issued late Saturday, NOC said it “is concerned by recent calls for the shutdown of national oil production”.
“Any deliberate disruption of oil sector operations will severely impact national revenue streams, potentially render NOC in contravention of contractual obligations, and create further division in the country.” Libya has been in conflict since the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival administrations vying for power and to control its oil wealth.
The conflict has been exacerbated since April when commander Khalifa Haftar, who is based in the east of the country where most oil fields are located, launched an offensive against the capital Tripoli. The city is the seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), while the elected parliament which supports Haftar is based in eastern Libya.
Last week parliamentary speaker Aguila Saleh Issa said oil production must cease, accusing the GNA of using oil revenues to finance the militias fighting Haftar, in an interview with an Egyptian news channel.
The country’s oil company, which is headquartered in Tripoli, has repeatedly insisted on its neutral status and refused to be drawn into the conflict. “This crucial source of income to the state, vital to all Libyans, must remain de-politicised and uninterrupted,” NOC said on Saturday.
But it also called for “economic transparency – including the equitable distribution of oil revenues nationally – to be embraced by all parties as an integral element of Libya’s future stability, and any lasting political settlement”. Libya’s oil revenues are managed by the country’s central bank, which is also based in Tripoli.
Both Haftar and the eastern parliament have repeatedly said that oil revenues are not evenly distributed and accuse the GNA of using the funds to finance its militias. Last month UN envoy Ghassan Salame said that Libya – which produces more than a million barrels of oil a day – was “committing suicide” and plundering its oil wealth to pay for the war.
On Saturday he met Haftar to discuss the Tripoli offensive and ways to “accelerate the transition towards reaching a political solution” in the country, the United Nations said.
Court in Sudan orders authorities to resume internet services
Internet on mobile phones and fixed land connections was cut across Sudan by the ruling military council
A Sudanese court Sunday ordered authorities to end a nationwide internet blockade imposed by the ruling generals after a deadly crackdown on protesters earlier this month, a lawyer said.
Crowds of protesters were violently dispersed on June 3 by men in military fatigues, who stormed a weeks-long protest camp outside the army headquarters in Khartoum where they had camped to demand that the generals step down.
Internet on mobile phones and fixed land connections was cut across Sudan by the ruling military council, with users saying it was done to prevent further mobilisation of protesters.
Lawyer Abdelazim al-Hassan said he had filed a petition against the blockade, and on Sunday a court in Khartoum ordered that the services be resumed.
“I had filed the case 10 days ago and Judge Awatef Abdellatiff ordered the telecommunications department to resume the internet services immediately,” Hassan said. Authorities can appeal the decision.
For the generals the internet and social media are a threat.
“Regarding social media, we see during this period that it represents a threat for the security of the country and we will not allow that,” military council spokesman General Shamseddine Kabbashi said earlier this month.
The internet blockade was an attempt to quell new protests against the generals, who have so far resisted to hand power to a civilian administration as demanded by demonstrators, protest leaders say.
Tens of thousands of protesters were mobilised through online social media apps during the months-long campaign against the now ousted leader Omar al-Bashir.
Protest leaders have resorted to neighbourhood campaigns to keep their movement alive, with activists mobilising supporters in night-time gatherings, witnesses said.
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