Five killed as gunmen attack police station in Egypt’s Sinai

July 30th, 2011 - 11:21 pm ICT by BNO News  

ARISH, EGYPT (BNO NEWS) — At least five people were killed and dozens more were injured when clashes between unknown masked men and Egyptian security forces erupted in the northern Sinai city of Arish.

Clashes broke out on Friday night after an unknown number of gunmen attacked a police station near the Israeli border, killing five people - including one police officer, an army officer and one child. According to the Al-Ahram state-owned newspaper, twenty-one people, including residents of the area, were injured.

The newspaper reported that a preliminary investigation by the general prosecution found that a total of ten thousand rounds were fired during the attack, which lasted about 9 hours. The gunmen also shot down a statue of former Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat before attacking the police station. They were also reportedly seen holding aloft the Quran.

According to reports, the masked men prohibited the media from covering the clashes and broke several cameras. Some media reports have stated that the gunmen shouted for the enactment of sharia (Islamic) law.

The military said four suspects were arrested in connection with the attack and another person was arrested while attacking a military checkpoint. Meanwhile, the head of North Sinai security, Saleh El-Masry, said that the armed men responsible for attacking the Arish police station also attacked a natural gas pipeline to Israel.

The violence came after Islamic groups staged protests across Egypt, mainly in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, demanding to convert Egypt into an Islamic state. The protests prompted secular activists to express their anger, saying the agreement to unify demands was violated by Islamists.

Youth organizations such as the 6 April Movement and the Revolution Youth Coalition have been organizing the Friday protests in the past months, but a few weeks ago Islamist groups joined the protests to defend what they call the ‘Islamic identity of the nation’. After negotiations, however, 21 political forces and Islamists agreed to join forces to seek common demands.

Youth organizations and revolutionary groups have been organizing demonstrations to protest that the demands of the revolution have not been met. They are also asking for the prosecution of those implicated in the killings of protesters during the January Revolution.

According to Amnesty International, at least 840 people were killed and over 6,000 people were injured in the violent repression that took place during the January uprising.

Ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt in a 30-year-long regime, stepped down after the uprising. Mubarak will stand trial for corruption and murder charges on August 3, along his sons, Alaa and Gamal, and businessman Hussein Salem.

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