CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appointed a new armed forces chief of staff on Saturday, and the interior ministry dismissed several high-ranking officials in an apparent reorganisation of the country s security command.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends a news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 24, 2017 . REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
No reason was given for the reshuffle, but the interior ministry decision came a week after a deadly attack on a police operation in a western desert area of Giza Province, in which the ministry said 16 police were killed after coming under heavy fire.
Egyptian forces have been fighting several armed Islamist groups, mostly in the northern part of the Sinai peninsula, since Sisi helped lead the military overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.
Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed in attacks by militants in recent years . A local Islamic State affiliate has been the main foe of the security forces in the north Sinai.
A statement from the presidency said Gen .
Mohamed Farid Hegazy would replace Gen . Mahmoud Hegazy, who has been made the president s adviser for strategic planning and crisis management.
In a separate statement, the interior ministry announced that it had replaced several high-ranking officials, including the head of homeland security, assistant to the minister for security in Giza province, the director of Giza s security and director of operations for central security.
It gave no further details on the shakeup . No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for last week s attack on the police in a remote desert area of Giza, about 130 km (80 miles) southwest of the capital Cairo.
Thirteen militants were killed in a raid on a farm hideout in the region on Friday . State news agency MENA quoted a security official as saying it was revenge for the blood of the men who were martyred last week in the oasis .
The vast western desert region has always been a security headache with arms flowing across the frontier with Libya, where militant groups have found shelter since the country fell into chaos after the 2011 end of Muammar Gaddafi s rule.
Sisi is a former military commander elected by a landslide in 2014 and presents himself as a bulwark against Islamist militancy . He is widely expected to run for re-election next year.
Reporting by Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Arwa Gaballa; Editing by Patrick Markey and Andrew Roche
The Prime Minister has said security at mosques across Britain will be reviewed after a van was driven into a crowd of Muslim worshippers in the latest terror attack to hit Britain. Theresa May called the attack “every bit as sickening as those that have come before”. She chaired a meeting of the emergency COBRA committee at Downing Street and later visited Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, near the site of the attack, meeting with community and faith leaders. The Metropolitan Police said there will be more uniformed officers at places of worship, including mosques and Muslim community centres, as they try to reassure local people. Speaking outside Number 10, Mrs May said the terrorist attack1 “targeted the ordinary and the innocent going about their daily lives”. “Today we come together as we have done before to condemn this act and to state once again that hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed,” she added. Mrs May said security was being stepped up.
“Extra police resources have already been deployed to reassure communities, and police will continue to assess the security needs of mosques and provide any additional resources needed,” she said.
The Government last summer announced a fund devoted to the security of places of worship, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said. “We have made available 2.5m,” she told Sky News. “I recently announced who would be getting those additional funds, which included 12 mosques, and actually I have reopened it recently to make sure that any additional place of worship that feels the need can apply for extra security.”
The attack happened shortly after midnight, when a man drove a van into a crowd of worshippers outside the mosque, injuring 10 people and leaving one dead. A 47-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and terror offences. It is the fourth terror attack since March in the country, and the third to involve a vehicle deliberately driven at pedestrians.
Image: The scene as Mrs May visited the mosque
It comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. For the Prime Minister, it comes at a difficult time, following her disastrous election gamble and the Grenfell Tower fire, in which dozens of people died. Hers and the Government’s response to the blaze was widely criticised for lacking empathy . Mrs May did not meet any survivors when she first visited the scene of the fire, and was heckled when she returned a day later. Mrs May is fighting for her survival2 amid rumours a leadership challenge might be imminent.
Image: Communities Secretary Sajid Javid says the Government will fight ‘anti-Muslim hate crime’
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid also visited the scene, and, outside the police cordon, comforted a woman who was visibly shaking. Mr Javid said: “I want to reassure both the local Muslim community, but also Muslims across the United Kingdom, that they will always have the full support of this government in fighting anti-Muslim hate crime.” Jeremy Corbyn, who lives near the site of the attack, expressed “absolute shock”.
After meeting with faith leaders at Finsbury Park Mosque, the Labour leader called the attack “an act of terror against a wholly innocent community who were coming out of prayers and walking home on the street next to where I live”.
“I am of course critical of cuts made to the police service, I make no criticism of the police behaviour or reaction last night.”
Plans to temporarily close the streets around Buckingham Palace during the next three months have been brought forward after the Berlin lorry attack. From Wednesday some of London’s most famous roads will be closed at specific times on the days of Changing the Guard to increase security. They include Constitution Hill, the Queen Victoria Memorial, Spur Road, Link Road and The Mall, up to the junction with Marlborough Road.