Friday,15 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1232, (5 - 11 February 2015)
Friday,15 December, 2017
Issue 1232, (5 - 11 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

United in anger

Grief, anger and solidarity with the Armed Forces are the reactions of the families of victims in the Sinai terrorist attacks, reports Ahmed Morsy

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Al-Ahram Weekly

“My heart has been torn apart over the death of my grandson,” Anwar Gad told Al-Ahram Weekly. She was the grandmother of 22-year-old Mustafa Magdi Ibrahim, one of the soldiers killed in last week’s terrorist attacks in Sinai.

Dressed in black, Gad was sitting in a car surrounded by dozens of Ibrahim’s relatives at the gates of the Kobri Al-Qobba Military Hospital on Sunday. They were waiting to receive his body.

“He was a sweetheart and the breadwinner of our family,” said Gad, 64. “He used to do shift work during his vacations to cover the expenses of his family and their monthly rent.”

Ibrahim lived with his family in a LE400-a-month apartment in Cairo’s Al-Marg district. Asked about his parents, Gad said, “His father is bedridden while his mother cannot leave the house as she is suffering from fainting fits after being told of the death of her son.”

Ibrahim was among those killed in the coordinated terrorist attacks that took place last Thursday in the restive North Sinai governorate claiming the lives of 24 soldiers, six policemen and 14 civilians.

Although a military funeral for the victims was held last Friday morning, some of the soldiers’ funerals were postponed until DNA tests can be carried out on the bodies.

Conscript Ahmed Abdel-Baki was one of those who died in the deadly attacks. “He was to end his military service in a month and a half,” one of Abdel-Baki’s relatives told the Weekly, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He was sitting on the pavement in front of the Al-Qubbah Hospital, waiting for Abdel-Baki’s body. Said the relative, “We are here for the third successive day hoping to receive his body, although the officials have told us the DNA test takes 48 hours.”

He added, “His mother is suffering from shock and was not able to travel to Cairo.”

Abdel-Baki was the youngest of six children, having four sisters and one brother. He was from the Damietta governorate, about 200 km north of Cairo. “He was engaged and was planning to marry following the end of his military service,” his relative said.

“We are ready to do whatever is needed to avenge his death if the army needs us. Terrorist attacks of this sort will do nothing to diminish the determination to cleanse the country of terrorist groups,” he added.

A Sinai militant group called Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for last week’s attacks. Though initially inspired by Al-Qaeda, the group has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group that controls about a third of Iraq and Syria. It has been at the forefront of militant groups launching attacks against security targets since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

The relative of another victim preferred not to confirm the name of his dead relative. “He was shot dead, but I can’t mention his name as we do not want to see the media publicise his death. We haven’t been able to tell his mother of his death since we are concerned at the effect it will have on her,” the man said.

Mohamed Salah, currently in the intensive care unit of the Al-Qubbah Hospital, is suffering from a broken arm and leg, in addition to scattered shrapnel in his body. “He is married with three daughters and a son,” Salah’s brother told the Weekly.

“When we first heard about his injuries we were terrified for his safety as we had heard about the large number of deaths that had been announced,” Salah’s brother said. He was sitting with other relatives at the hospital following the end of visiting hours.

“They only let us see him via a camera,” said Salah’s father, who had come with his wife from Asyut to visit their son. “Thank God, he is still alive,” said the father, a retired army major.

“We need to deal with the terrorists with more steadfastness and strength. As a former army major myself, I am more than willing to do my part if the army needs me,” said the man, now in his sixties.

At Al-Helmia Military Hospital in Cairo, where a number of the injured were treated, the parents of injured conscript Salah Hegazi waited to see him.

“God is sufficient for us and He is our guardian. May God punish those responsible for what has happened to our son,” the father said. “He is my oldest son and I pray to God that he will recover soon.”

Hegazi, 22, comes from the city of Belbeis on the eastern edge of the southern Nile Delta in Sharqiya governorate. He is suffering from burns and fractures. “The travel to Cairo doesn’t matter to us. What matters to us is to be reassured that our son is fine,” said the father.

A statement by an army spokesman on Friday said the attacks would not deter the Armed Forces from their “duty of uprooting terrorism.”

“We will act against these terrorist groups. Whatever the terrorists do, they will not make us regret sending our sons to join the army,” said Hegazi’s father.

This spirit of solidarity with the Armed Forces was expressed throughout the week on social networks, including via the Twitter hashtag “We are all the Egyptian army”, which has been heavily used since the weekend.


Timeline: From the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution to the Sinai terrorist attacks

23 January
* Sondos Reda Abu Bakr, a 17-year-old girl, is killed and two other people injured during clashes in Alexandria that erupt following pro-Muslim Brotherhood protests on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. Though the state media reports the girl’s death, it does not say who killed her.

* The 6 April Youth Movement, Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya, Students against the Coup and the Muslim Brotherhood launch calls for protests on 25 January 2015 to mark the Revolution.

* An explosion near the Ittihadiyya Palace in Heliopolis injures four police conscripts.

24 January
* During a protest held by the Socialist Popular Alliance in downtown Cairo, 31-year-old Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh is shot as the security forces disperse the protest. She dies later the same day. Al-Sabbagh had been walking to lay flowers at the monument in Tahrir Square to the memory of protesters who died in the 25 January Revolution. Investigations into her death continue.

* The security forces close Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo and Giza’s Al-Nahda Square, together with the roads leading to the squares in anticipation of protests called by different revolutionary groups on 25 January.

* The cabinet issues a decree to postpone all celebrations to commemorate the 25 January Revolution as a result of mourning for the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Celebrations had been scheduled to take place in Cairo Stadium and in major public squares in commemoration of the revolution, but these are postponed by the government.
* In the early hours of the day, three explosions occur in the Beheira and Sharqiyya governorates leading to the collapse of an electricity pylon and a power outage in Beheira. A railroad tunnel in Zagazig also partially collapses.

25 January
* At least 18 people, including three policemen, die in protests around the country on the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution, according to Health Ministry figures. Cairo’s Al-Matariya district witnesses the most intense clashes between anti-government demonstrators and the security forces in which at least 12 people, including a police conscript, are killed.

* Clashes erupt in downtown Cairo between protesters and supporters of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi during a protest at the Journalists Syndicate. The protest had been organised to demand justice for those injured in the revolution.

* Gunmen in a car open fire on a security checkpoint near the Pyramids, killing two policemen.

* Two police officers are injured after an improvised explosive device targeting a Central Security Forces post close to the Alf Maskan area of eastern Cairo explodes. The Ajnad Misr terrorist group claims responsibility for the bomb.

* Other explosions target a main gas pipeline, two buses and five electrical transformers in residential neighbourhoods of 10 Ramadan City with no reported casualties.

* The Ministry of the Interior says it has “thwarted a terrorist plot” by capturing a 23-year-old alleged terrorist attempting to plant an explosive device at the Abu Zaabal police station.
31 January
* Al-Sisi holds a meeting with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to discuss Thursday’s coordinated terrorist attacks in North Sinai.

* He issues a decree to create a unified military command for the east of the Suez Canal to combat terrorism two days after the attacks. The new structure is to be led by recently promoted Lieutenant-General Osama Roshdi Askar, who will guide the counter-terrorism activities of the Second and Third Army.

* The Cairo Urgent Matters Court designates the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, a terrorist organisation. The case had initially called for the banning of the Al-Qassam Brigades, accusing them of “participating in terrorist operations.”

1 February
* A policeman kills a suspect held in custody in a hospital, where he is receiving medical treatment, after the suspect allegedly provokes the policeman guarding him. The dead suspect is one of two people arrested three days earlier while trying to plant bombs in the Al-Warraq neighbourhood in Giza. Police had opened fire, injuring one of the suspects, who was then transferred to the Agouza Hospital to receive medical treatment.

* Australian Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste, in prison for 400 days, leaves prison early in the morning. It isn’t clear whether Greste is deported or pardoned by a decision of Al-Sisi. Greste’s colleagues Mohamed Fahmi and Baher Mohamed remain jailed.

* A bomb planted inside an electricity kiosk in the Behler Corridor in downtown Cairo explodes.

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