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Egypt mosque attack: President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gives forces 3 months to restore stability in Sinai

Cairo: Just days after the worst terrorist attack in Egypt's modern history, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Wednesday gave his security forces a three-month deadline to restore "security and stability" in the troubled Sinai, the epicentre of an increasingly brutal Islamic insurgency.

In a televised ceremony marking the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, el-Sissi authorized his new chief of staff, Major General Mohammed Farid Hegazy, to use "all brute force" against the militants.

 Egypt mosque attack: President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gives forces 3 months to restore stability in Sinai

Representational image. AP

Hegazy, appointed last month, rose up from his front-row seat and stood in rigid attention as el-Sissi, a general-turned-president, addressed him.

"I am mandating Maj Gen Mohammed Farid Hegazy before you and the entire people of Egypt to restore security and stability in Sinai," said el-Sissi. "With God's benevolence and your efforts and sacrifices, you and the police will restore security and use all brute force, all brute force."

This is the second time since Friday's horrific massacre in a sleepy Sinai village that el-Sissi ordered the use of "brute force" against the militants. It was not immediately clear what the use of such force would entail, but it suggested a scorched earth tactic that many of the president's loyalists in the media have been calling for.

Friday's attack on a mosque in the northern Sinai village of al-Rawdah was the deadliest assault by Islamic extremists in Egypt's modern history. Among the 305 dead were 27 children; another 128 people were wounded.

The Islamic State group hasn't yet claimed responsibility for the mosque attack but the over two dozen gunmen who unleashed explosives and gunfire to mow down the worshippers during Friday prayers carried the black banner of the Islamic State militant group. The mosque belonged to followers of Islam's mystical Sufi movement, considered by Islamic State to be heretics.

Militants have in the past targeted them in Sinai as well as elsewhere, like in Iraq.

Egypt's military and police have for years been waging a tough and costly campaign against militants in the towns, villages and desert mountains of northern Sinai. In the past year, militants have bombed churches in the capital of Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians.

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Updated Date: Nov 29, 2017 18:49:56 IST

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