Top News: Militants Attack Egyptian Army Checkpoints in Sinai, Kill Fifty; Sinai State Claims Responsibility

Islamic militants on Wednesday unleashed a wave of simultaneous attacks, including suicide car bombings, on Egyptian army checkpoints in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, killing at least fifty soldiers, a security source said. The attacks were followed by ongoing clashes with militants. So far over thirty militants have been killed in the clashes, the source added. A North Sinai resident told Daily News Egypt that several civilians were also killed in the clashes. An Islamic State affiliate in Egypt, Sinai State, claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying its fighters targeted a total of fifteen army and police positions and staged three suicide bombings, two of which targeted checkpoints and one that hit an officers’ club in the nearby city of Arish. Eleven checkpoints and a police station in Sheikh Zuweid were also attacked by militants using missiles, the statement added. The authenticity of the statement could not be verified. According to Al Masry al-Youm a police station in Arish was also besieged by militants. As reported by news outlets, the Sinai State said that it had prevented reinforcements from approaching the attack sites, and used air defense missiles in response to attacks by Egyptian military jets. Egyptian army F-16 jets and Apache helicopters, meanwhile, strafed the region that lies within the Sinai Peninsula. An army statement said that five checkpoints were attacked by about seventy militants and that soldiers had destroyed three Landcruisers fitted with anti-aircraft guns. Another two explosions were heard in Rafah on Wednesday hours after the clashes began, security sources and witnesses said. The cause of the blasts was not immediately clear. [AP, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, DNE, The Guardian, 7/1/2015]

Egypt’s cabinet to review laws on terrorism, parliamentary elections
Informed sources have said that the Egyptian cabinet’s weekly meeting on Wednesday will prioritize discussions on laws on terrorism and parliamentary elections. Minister of Transitional Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ibrahim al-Heneidy told reporters this week that the justice ministry has recently finalized a new law on fighting terrorism, separate from the recent law on ‘terrorist entities.’ The law includes measures that would speed up procedures related to “terror” crimes in courts designated for these crimes. It will also expand the authorities of law enforcement officers and prosecutors handling “terror” crimes. Heneidy explained that the new draft anti-terror law aims to toughen penalties on those funding terrorist activities and organizations. “The cabinet will discuss what urgent security and legal measures should be taken to safeguard Egypt from a new cycle of violence,” an informed source within the transitional justice ministry said. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 6/30/2015]

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Egypt arrests suspect over chief prosecutor assassination
Egypt’s security forces on Tuesday arrested a person who claimed that a pro-Morsi militant group was responsible for assassinating late Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat in Cairo on Monday, state news agency MENA reported. Security forces arrested a 23-year-old unemployed man who claimed that a pro-Morsi group calling itself the Giza Popular Resistance Brigade was responsible for killing Barakat on a Facebook page carrying the group’s name, a source at the Giza security directorate said. A Twitter account claiming to be the official and only account of the group, however, announced that it had no Facebook page, and that it had not claimed the attack.  The suspect was arrested at an internet cafe in Giza. Meanwhile, judicial and security sources speaking on condition of anonymity said that an investigation by the National Security Agency found that the car bomb used in the attack on the Prosecutor General’s convoy was not reported stolen, but was bought with a forged ID card and given stolen number plates. They added that the surveillance camera of a nearby shop spotted a person wearing dark clothes, parking the car at dawn, four hours before it was detonated. His features were not clear because of the distance of the camera. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 6/30/2015]

Hearing defense witnesses optional in proposed penal code amendments

According to judicial sources, Egypt’s judiciary has proposed a number of amendments to the penal code, which would make the hearing of defense witnesses optional for judges. The amendments, the sources said, would see rulings by the Supreme State Security Court approved by the presidency for enforcement without the possibility of appeal. Rulings in criminal cases can be appealed at the court level, the sources added. [Egypt Independent, 6/30/2015]

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  • Egypt police arrest twenty alleged Brotherhood members | Ahram Online

Egypt revises draft 2015/16 budget to cut deficit to 8.9 percent of GDP
Egypt has amended the draft budget for fiscal year 2015/2016  and cut the projected deficit to 8.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from last month’s projection of 9.9 percent of GDP. The new draft, the second revision of the draft budget published on the finance ministry’s website, projected public expenditure at 864 billion Egyptian pounds ($113 billion), from 885 billion pounds in the previous draft. Projected revenues were also raised to 622.2 billion pounds from 612 billion pounds in the previous draft. However, projected growth for the fiscal year remained unchanged at 5 percent. Wednesday’s draft also cut projected spending on social programs to 429 billion pounds from 431 billion pounds and trimmed a projected subsidy on bread and food commodities to 38 billion pounds from 38.4 billion. The draft budget has not yet been approved by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. [Reuters, 7/1/2015]

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  • EGAS head: No increase in price of natural gas supplied to factories | Egypt Independent
  • Air-conditioned train ticket prices increased | Egypt Independent, Cairo Post  
  • Egypt reduces state budget deficit to 8.9 pct | Aswat Masriya, Reuters   
  • Egypt cuts exports, exploits domestic raw materials | Al-Monitor
  • Egypt’s central bank says money supply up 15.9 percent in May | Ahram Online
  • Egypt targets EGP 262 billion loan for budget deficit in Q1 of FY 2015/2016 | DNE
  • Egypt’s Housing Ministry considers cooperation with private sector in new project  | DNE

Helwan University renews contract with private security firm Falcon
Helwan University has reportedly agreed to renew its contract with a private security firm to secure the university during the 2015-2016 academic year. The decision came after the President of Helwan University, Yasser Saqr, met with members of the university council Monday to review an evaluation report on the performance of the privately-owned Falcon Group International during the 2014-2015 academic year. The report highly recommended the contract renewal under the same conditions, a Higher Education Ministry source said. Meanwhile, a total of seventy-five students were expelled from Al-Azhar University’s Faculty of Islamic Studies for girls for their alleged implication in violence. [Cairo Post, 7/1/2015]

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  • Prosecutor General’s assassination sparks local uproar | DNE
  • Coptic Bishop attempts to clarify comments on homosexuality, repeats affronts | DNE
  • The state of Egypt’s youth, the driver behind Morsi’s toppling | Aswat Masriya
  • NGOs: Demands of repressive legal procedures unveil real criminals | Egypt Independent

Attacks continue ahead of July 3 anniversary; At least six killed
Several attacks hit Egyptian governorates Tuesday, killing at least six amid tight security measures ahead of the July 3 anniversary.  Two explosive devices detonated inside a private car next to a shopping center in 6 October City on Tuesday. The explosion, which took place near the 6 October police station, killed three people inside the car, Health Ministry Spokesman Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar said. Four people were also reportedly injured during the blast. Eyewitnesses said the car was on its way to the police station, 1.1 km away from the shopping centre. A policeman was also killed Tuesday, when gunmen in a car opened fire on the policemen guarding the Wax Museum in Cairo’s Helwan suburb. One man was shot dead in Arish by unknown assailants Tuesday morning. A security checkpoint at a police station in Alexandria was fired at late Tuesday. The attack was carried out by unknown assailants on a motorcycle. There were no injuries.  One police officer was shot dead, and four conscripts injured after their police vehicle was shot at early Tuesday, in a village near Beni Suef. Two sound bombs also went off in Beni Suef; one in the vicinity of a police station and another in the center of the Beni Suef city. Meanwhile in Qalubiya, an explosive device planted near a bank was neutralized by bomb squad forces. In a separate incident in Qalubiya’s city of Banha, three security personnel were injured after bombs detonated below three transmission towers. In Fayoum, three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) exploded early Wednesday inside the Civil Registry Office, reportedly injuring one civilian. [Cairo Post, DNE, 7/1/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Man shot dead by unknown assailants in Arish on Tuesday | DNE

Libya deports 100 Egyptians illegally entered its territory
Libyan authorities reportedly deported 100 Egyptians on Tuesday, after they illegally entered its territory.  “They were arrested, kept in an illegal migrants’ camp in Tobruk before they were deported Tuesday via the Libyan-Egyptian border,” the Head of Illegal Immigration Authority in Tobruk, Mansour al-Obeidy said. Despite hundreds of Egyptians fleeing war-torn Libya through the Salloum crossing, many others are still attempting to enter the oil-rich country in search of work. [Cairo Post, 7/1/2015]

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