Cairo | Three judges and their driver were today gunned down in Egypt’s volatile Sinai peninsula, where security forces have been locked in a battle with Islamist insurgents backed by an outfit linked to the dreaded Islamic State militant group. The attack, the first of its kind in Sinai, targeted the vehicle the judges were travelling in from Ismailiya to El-Arish for a court hearing, an official said.
Health ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar said two other people were also injured in the attack. The shooting happened hours after a Cairo court sentenced deposed President Mohammed Morsi and over 100 other Islamists to death over mass prison breaks during the 2011 uprising.
The capital punishment to Morsi made him the first president in Egypt’s history to face the possibility of death by hanging if the court ratifies its initial decision on June 2 or he loses his projected appeal. Some of over 100 others given the death sentence included Islamists from Sinai, where militants have often launched attacks against policemen and soldiers.
However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. But the area has been a bastion of militant group Ansar Beitel-Maqdes, which in November 2014 announced that it has changed its name to Sinai Province and pledged allegiance to Islamic State group.
The Sinai peninsula has witnessed many violent attacks by militants since the January 2011 revolution that toppled president Hosni Mubarak. The attacks targeting police and military increased after the ouster of Morsi in 2013. More than 500 security personnel have been killed since then. The military has also launched security campaigns in the area, arrested suspects and demolished houses that belong to terrorists, including those facilitating tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip.
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