ESW Week in Brief: May 18-24, 2019

05/24/2019 . By TIMEP

Summary

  • On May 19, an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a tour bus injured at least 16 near the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza.
  • Following the attack on the tour bus in Giza, the Ministry of Interior announced that security forces had killed 12 individuals in two counter-terror raids, alleging that the targets were Hassm militants, in Sixth of October City and Shorouk City.
  • On May 21, the interior ministry killed 16 individuals and confiscated a number of small and medium arms in two raids in Arish.
  • Wilayat Sinai claimed 11 attacks throughout North Sinai on May 21 and 22 alone, marking the group’s most active two-day period since July 2017.

IED Attack on Tour Bus Injures 16 in Giza

On May 19, an improvised explosive device (IED) targeting a tour bus injured at least 16 near the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. The bus was carrying 25 South African tourists, three of whom are receiving treatment for their injuries in Egypt. Four Egyptians in a nearby car were injured by broken glass. The attack has not been claimed and represents the third attack of 2019 to be reported outside of Egypt’s North Sinai province. In December 2018, an IED attack on tour bus in Giza’s Haram neighborhood killed four and wounded 12 others. The tourism sector in Egypt has steadily recovered after tourism revenue fell to a 10-year low in 2016, but remains vulnerable to disruptions based on the security environment.

Interior Ministry Conducts Counter-Terror Raids

On May 20, the Ministry of the Interior announced that it had killed 12 suspected Hassm militants in Sixth of October City and Shorouk City. The raid came a day after the IED attack on a tour bus in Giza. The interior ministry often reports counter-terror operations after successful terrorist attacks. The day after the December 2018 attack on a tour bus, security forces announced that they had killed 40 suspected militants. In that December 2018 raid, family members of the suspected militants said they had been forcibly disappeared before the announced counterterrorism operation.

After a period of inactivity in late 2017 and all of 2018, Hassm reemerged in January, when it claimed responsibility for a failed IED attack in Giza. In March, Egypt’s Ministry of Interior announced that Egyptian police killed seven alleged Hassm members in a shootout that began on the Ring Road in Giza, and later in the month Egypt’s prosecutor-general referred 11 accused Hassm members to the State Security Emergency Court.

Separately, the interior ministry announced on May 21 that police forces clashed with suspected militants in two separate raids in Arish, which killed 16 suspected militants. Police were also able to confiscate a number of firearms and explosives from the cell. Although the defense ministry typically reports on operations in North Sinai, the interior ministry had also  announced an operation in the Abu Eita area of Arish in April, which killed 11 suspected militants.

Wilayat Sinai Claims 11 Attacks in North Sinai in Two Days

On May 21, Wilayat Sinai claimed six IED attacks and one attack with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). Five of the attacks were reported in Rafah and the remaining two attacks were claimed in Arish. All seven attacks targeted military equipment and personnel, including foot patrols, a Humvee, and a tank.

On May 22, Wilayat Sinai claimed an additional four attacks: two used IEDs, one used an RPG, and one involved a sniper. Two of the attacks were reported in Sheikh Zuweid and two were reported in Rafah. All four attacks on the second day had military targets: the two in Rafah targeted separate groups of soldiers, one in Sheikh Zuweid targeted a military vehicle, and the remaining attack targeted a military checkpoint.

The 11 attacks represent the most intense two-day period of activity by Wilayat Sinai since July 2017, when the group claimed six attacks in each of two consecutive days.