Eight members of the Tarabin tribe, one of North Sinai’s largest, were killed in ongoing clashes with the militants of the Islamic State-affiliate Province of Sinai, according to tribal leader Moussa al-Delh.
Delh told Mada Masr that a number of tribesmen were walking when they saw a vehicle that they believed belonged to the Armed Forces. However, they soon discovered it belonged to Province of Sinai militants, who had taken the vehicle in a previous operation. The tribesmen engaged the militants in combat, with the help of the military’s air forces, resulting in the death of a large number of militants, as well as the eight tribesmen.
Tribal anger against the militants has grown significantly, particularly after the kidnapping of a number of Fawakhariya tribal leaders. A number of the tribe’s men blocked roads in North Sinai on April 21, two weeks after tribal leader Hamdy Gouda was abducted, with no information as to his whereabouts. Local sources told Mada Masr that Gouda’s disappearance was followed by the abduction of businessmen Mohamed Sahmoud, who also belongs to the same tribe, known for its business relations with the state.
The Province of Sinai also claimed responsibility for the death of a number of Tarabin tribesmen in April, after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb at a checkpoint held by the tribesmen close to Rafah.
The Province of Sinai identified the suicide bomber as Abu Qudama al-Sinawy, who detonated a car rigged with explosives at a checkpoint manned by Tarabin tribesmen the militants claim are loyal to the Egyptian Armed Forces.
Mokhtar Awad, a research fellow in the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, previously told Mada Masr that the tense relationship between the Tarabin tribe and Islamic State militants dates back to 2014, when the militants targeted the commercial activities of the tribe in the center and south of the North Sinai governorate. Another point of contention, Awad noted, is the tribe’s close relationship with the state.
A previous investigation by Mada Masr showed that security forces had recruited a number of local civilians to assist in its war against terrorism in North Sinai, with the state providing some of the tribe’s members with arms.