El-ARISH, Egypt — Coordinated day and nighttime attacks on Sunday by emboldened militants in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula targeted different areas in the main city of el-Arish and a border town, killing one civilian and four security officers, according to officials.
The pace of attacks on the police and military in northern Sinai has intensified since the July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Morsy from power, but assaults have largely been confined to desolate desert areas of the region.
Sunday's assault was significant in that it struck in the heart of el-Arish and killed a 32-year-old man driving his car in the most populated city in northern Sinai, which is also its provincial capital. The city is home to about 150,000 people.
For militants in Sinai, however, restoring Morsy is not the priority — they have said their goal is to drive out the military and the authority of the central government in order to create an “Islamic Emirate.”
Morsy's ouster by the military, though, took away a leader seen as reining in security crackdowns.
The attacks highlighted the security crisis Egypt's military-backed interim leaders face in restoring stability after more than two years of turmoil since the popular uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The northern part of Sinai has been the most lawless corner of the country since then. Police stations have been torched and security forces kicked out of tribal areas, where they were notorious for abuses against the powerful tribes of the region.
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