A number of Egyptian policemen protested in front of North Sinai's Arish Security Directorate Saturday evening after a gunmen attack on a police patrol killed three officers earlier on the day.
The protesters later blocked the Arish-Rafah road as well as other critical roads in the peninsula, according to Egypt Independent.
Protesters said they have been left “without protection to face militants' attacks,” reported the newspaper.
The demonstrating policemen also left their locations and sieged the Security Directorate building.
They blamed the country’s ministry of interior for not combating armed gangs in the peninsula, saying that policemen are not allowed to take any action without direct instructions from the ministry.
Meanwhile, a group of revolutionary youth gathered in front the North Sinai governorate late on Saturday to support the police protest. The group called for firing the current governor and dismissing the minister of interior.
A representative of Sinai’s revolutionary youth coalition said they also demanded an establishment of a council made of 25 revolutionaries to manage the governorate until a new governor is elected.
The protests came after three Egyptian policemen died on Saturday when gunmen fired on their car in the northern Sinai Peninsula city of al-Arish before escaping, police officials said.
A security source said the attackers were probably militants who, Egyptian forces have been hunting since the ambush killing of 16 border guards on Aug. 5, the biggest security crackdown Sinai has seen in decades.
“Armed men who might belong to a jihadist group attacked a police vehicle and fired on its passengers before fleeing,” he told AFP.
Two policemen died at the scene of the attack on the suburbs of al-Arish, the administrative center of North Sinai, while one of the other two injured died at the hospital later after the attack, medical and security sources said.
The Aug. 5 attack - the deadliest in Sinai since Egypt’s 1973 war with Israel - prompted the government to send in hundreds of troops backed by tanks, armored vehicles and helicopters in a joint operation with police to raid militant hideouts, arrest suspects and seize weapons.
Disorder has spread in Sinai since autocrat Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising last year, with Islamist militants stepping up attacks on security forces and the Israeli border. Egypt's new elected Islamist president, Mohammed Mursi, has pledged to restore security in the poor, desert region.
On September 8, an Egyptian official said there were about 225 tunnels in Sinai, 31 of which were destroyed.
The tunnels are used to smuggle various kinds of products into the besieged Gaza Strip and the Egyptian authorities have often turned a blind eye to the cross border activity.
Efforts to impose central authority in the lawless desert region are complicated by the indigenous Bedouin population's ingrained hostility to the government in Cairo.