The militants who killed 16 troops at the Sinai border checkpoint attack earlier this month were all of Egyptian origin, said a Wednesday report by state-owned press that sought to debunk the assumption the attackers had been Palestinian.
The suspected Islamic militants ambushed the border post on Aug. 5 and then drove into Gaza, where they were stopped and killed by Israeli airstrikes.
“Investigations and DNA tests done on the six bodies that arrived from Israel proved that they are all Egyptian,” wrote Sameh Seif al-Yazal, a former general, in the al-Gomhuria daily.
Since the ambush, thousands of Egyptian troops backed by tanks and heavy equipment have been deployed in northern Sinai, near the Israeli border. But many Egyptians believed the attackers were Palestinian, citing the footwear on their corpses, which was made in Nablus.
“The attackers belong to the Egyptian ‘takfiri’ trend, which accuses people who that do not follow an extremist line of thought of apostasy,” wrote Seif al-Yazal, Chairman of the Al Gomhouria Center for Political and Security Studies in Cairo.
He said that all of the attackers had escaped from prison during the anti-government protests last year, and that six separate militant groups had taken part in planning the attack.
“One of those groups is the Gaza-based Army of Islam and another is one from Sinai that adopts al-Qaeda’s ideologies even though it is not affiliated to it,” he wrote.
“There were several factors that determined their choice of their victims like the fact that they were a small group as well as their proximity to the border with Israel. In addition, the soldiers were attacked at a time when they were busy breaking their fast.”
He noted that the attackers planned to carry out an operation inside Israel to gain sympathy from Egyptians and demonstrate to both Egypt and Israel their power in Sinai. He also denied any involvement by Hamas in the attack, which he said was suffering from militant extremists in the Gaza Strip like the Army of Islam.
“The attacks have also nothing to do with Salafis or al-Gamaa al-Islamiya. Only groups that want to establish an Islamic emirate in Sinai were involved,” he said.
The decision to oust Intelligence Chief General Mourad Mowafi, was directly related to the Sinai attacks, he added.
“The statement by the general to the Anatolia News Agency about his prior knowledge of the attack and its timing was the direct reason for his ouster,” he said.