Egypt extends state of emergency; bomb kills three

CAIRO/ISMAILIA: Egypt’s Parliament Tuesday approved an extension of a nationwide state of emergency until the end of September as a police officer and two conscripts were killed by a roadside bomb in the Sinai where Egypt faces an Islamist insurgency.

Parliament unanimously approved a three-month state of emergency in April, giving the authorities greater powers to crack down on what it called enemies of the state after two church bombings killed at least 45 people.

The extension by a further three months, ordered by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, means the state of emergency will last at least until the end of September, Ali Abdelaal, speaker of the House of Representatives, said.

“The reasons for which the state of emergency was declared are still in place and therefore it must be extended,” Abdelaal told lawmakers.

Apart from the three killed, 10 other policemen were wounded by the roadside explosion in the restive Sinai Peninsula, security and medical sources told Reuters.

The blast hit an armored vehicle as it drove by in the south of Arish, capital of North Sinai province, killing a lieutenant colonel of the central security forces and two of his men, the sources said.

State television confirmed an officer and two conscripts had been killed but did not mention any wounded. There was no immediate comment from the Interior Ministry.

Egypt is fighting an Islamist insurgency led by Daesh (ISIS) in North Sinai, where hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed since 2013 when the military ousted Islamist President Mohammad Morsi after mass protests.

Daesh has also increasingly carried out attacks in the mainland on security forces and Coptic Christian civilians in recent months, killing around 100 Copts since December.

The security sources said Daesh fighters were most likely behind the attack and had detonated the bomb remotely as the armored vehicle drove by. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.