ISIS claims responsibility for bombing in Egypt’s Sinai

CAIRO (REUTERS, AFP) - Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) Egyptian branch claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed four people in a hotel in North Sinai capital al-Arish on Tuesday (Nov 24) where judges overseeing a parliamentary election were staying.

The statement by the Sinai Province group was circulated by its supporters on Twitter and the encrypted messaging system Telegram.

“A brother ... seeking martyrdom hit with his car bomb the security force protecting the Swiss (Inn) hotel were 50 judges were staying only to be followed by a lion ... who broke into the judges’ base with his automatic weapon ... then blew up his explosive belt among them,” read the statement, which also published pictures of the alleged attackers.

The first blast was triggered by a suicide car bomber followed by a militant who set off an explosive vest, the military said in a statement.  A third attacker sneaked inside a hotel room and shot dead the judge, the military said.  It said both bombers set off their explosives when police confronted them and traded shots with the attacker wearing the explosives vest.  

Two judges, eight officers and conscripts and two civilians were wounded in the blasts, the interior ministry said.  The military said 12 people were wounded, including soldiers and policemen.  

State television aired footage of shattered hotel windows and a charred limb, and car parts flung into a hotel terrace by the blast.

Egypt held its second round of parliamentary elections on Sunday and Monday, its first legislative vote since the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.  Morsi’s ouster unleashed a deadly police crackdown on his followers, and fuelled an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

Extremists in the Sinai who have pledged allegiance to ISIS have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.  They have also claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian passenger plane after it left the south Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Oct 31, killing all 224 people on board.  

Unlike the north of the peninsula, which has become an extremist stronghold and is off-limits to tourists, south Sinai is dotted with heavily secured Red Sea resorts.