Egyptian police say they killed 10 “gunmen” in North Sinai, but a former MP, and a rights activist say slain citizens were forcibly disappeared

At least 10 Egyptian citizens were killed by Egyptian forces on Friday, following raids on al-Arish in the northern Sinai peninsula in pursuit of gunmen allegedly responsible for carrying out “terror attacks” over the previous days in the town.

According to a statement released by the Egyptian ministry of interior, Egyptian forces were able to raid the gunmen’s hiding place, which caused clashes to erupt between the Egyptian forces and gunmen.

The ministry added that Egyptian forces had found [a number of weapons and ammunition at the hiding place] following the killing of the 10 “gunmen”.

Egyptian military and police forces have been the target of ongoing attacks, which have increased since Egypt’s General- turned-President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi took power after he led a military coup against Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the militant group responsible for a majority of attacks on military personnel, aligned with the Islamic State group in November 2014, changing its name to Sinai Province.

Former MP denies the Interior Ministry’s statement 

Yahya Aqeel, a former Member of the Egyptian Parliament, denied the official story narrated by Egypt’s Interior Ministry which claimed that security forces killed ten “gunmen”, describing the slain persons as “terrorists”, and accusing them of killing army soldiers and a police officer. Citizens from Sinai also said that the official Interior Ministry statement came contrary to what was confirmed by the people of El Arish close to the ten dead persons, who emphasized that the ten slain people were liquidated after being arrested and that “the claim that they are terrorists is void.”

Aqeel wrote on his Facebook account, saying that “The liquidation of ten students in El Arish, putting a gun next to each one, claiming that they were terrorists, and promoting this narrative in the pro-coup media… and then how to ask for calm and stability in the Sinai Peninsula? … The people of El Arish want an explanation for this incident .. The slain young people were, reportedly, detained about a month ago.”

Later, Aqeel said in a tweet that some of those who were liquidated were forcibly disappeared for six months, saying: “Ali Abdul Ati, Ahmed Yousef, …Ayoub’s and others were forcibly disappeared for more than 6 months …but surprisingly, the official narrative claimed that they were resisting the authorities in the students’ apartment!”

A human rights activist criticizes Egypt’s Interior Ministry

Haitham Ghoneim, a researcher and human rights activist, criticized the Egyptian Ministry narrative, saying that it was a “cheap cinema movie” and added that the interior ministry for the first time captured such a video without regard to the families of the young people and the cycle of bloodshed … The victims had been detained [in the interior ministry’s detention camps].

Ghoneim said in a video he posted on his Facebook account that “The Interior announced in a statement that it was able to kill 10 young Egyptians, stating that young people had killed many army recruits as well as a police officer.” He added that it is the first time that the interior ministry captures video scenes of a physical liquidation of young people who had been forcibly disappeared. Everyone knew that all the ten young people announced by the interior ministry statement had been forcibly disappeared for periods ranging between one month and more.”