CAIRO — Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Saturday a deadly assault on an army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 30 troops was a “foreign-funded operation.”
Roaring in front of cameras on Saturday, el-Sissi said there were foreign powers that wanted to “break the back of Egypt,” without elaborating. He vowed to take drastic measures to uproot the militants and said Egypt was engaged in an “extensive war” that would last a long time.
“There is a big conspiracy against us,” he said while standing with army commanders ahead of a military funeral for the slain soldiers and officers.
Egypt declared a three-month state of emergency Friday in the north and center of the Sinai Peninsula after a suicide car bombing killed 30 soldiers, the presidency said.
The measures began on Saturday at 0300 GMT “for a duration of three months,” the presidency said in a statement in the wake of the deadliest attack on the security forces since the army deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last year.
The decision was also taken to close the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip.
“The army and the police will take all necessary measures to tackle the dangers of terrorism and its financing, to preserve the security of the region… and protect the lives of citizens,” the presidential decree said.
The decision to invoke a state of emergency came after 30 soldiers were killed and dozens of others wounded in the attack in an agricultural area northwest of El-Arish, the main town in north Sinai.
The bombing was carried out by a suspected jihadist who rammed the checkpoint with a vehicle packed with explosives, security officials said.
Gunmen also shot dead an officer and wounded two soldiers on Friday at another checkpoint south of El-Arish, security officials said.
Since Morsi’s ouster, more than 1,400 of his supporters have been killed in a crackdown by the authorities.
Over 15,000 others have been jailed including Morsi and the top leadership of his Muslim Brotherhood, and more than 200 sentenced to death in speedy trials.