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Insecurity in Sinai

Three policemen and four soldiers were kidnapped this morning in Sinai.

Unidentified gunmen on kidnapped three Egyptian policemen and four soldiers in the Sinai peninsula this morning, according to security officials. The servicemen were travelling to Cairo when the minibuses they were in were stopped at gunpoint in Al-Wadi al-Akhdar region, east of El-Areesh in north Sinai, they said.

The three captured policemen are from the Central Security Forces, the branch of the interior ministry used to quell protest. The four other men belong to the armed forces. The two groups were travelling in separate minibuses, officials said. "The kidnappers have not issued any demands yet," they added.

Local Bedouin leaders have been called in to mediate between authorities and the kidnappers. According to Bedouin sources, it is believed the kidnappers want the release of certain prisoners.

Morsi subsequently called in the interior minister and defense minister. This could either turn out to be deja vu, with Morsi using this as a chance to reshuffle his cabinet of ministers or proves that Morsi is getting worried that the situation in Sinai could cause an escalation in protests against him with people decrying the lack of security in the country. Either way, when members of the army can be kidnapped that doesn’t leave much hope for the rest of us.

UPDATE: This video, showing the kidnapped officers, reciting the kidnappers' demands has just been leaked.

UPDATE II: The 7 kidnapped officers have been released after negotiations. Seems like Morsi called his buddies who kidnapped them in the first place and asked them to let them go as it's been widely reported that the whole incident was allowed, if not encouraged, by the presidency to try and embarrass El Sisi, the commander of the army, in a situation similar to that which helped de-seat Tantawi. Realising that El Sisi is very popular with in the armed forces and that he would not stand for it, it is said that the president backed down. 

The army was prepared to retrieve the officers by force and sent reinforcements to Sinai but, unfortunately, the only thing the managed to do was mistakenly attack a Bedouin funeral.

To recap: our president is kidnapping soldiers and our army is attacking funerals by mistake.


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