CAIRO (AP) - The scale of the bloodshed was vastly higher than past militant attacks but the Egyptian government response the same: three days of mourning, reassuring messages in the media that things are under control, and the president promising vengeance.
The identical pattern in the aftermath of Friday’s attack on a mosque in Sinai, which killed 305 people, raises the question whether Egypt has any options left in the fight against Islamic militants.
The military has thrown tanks, fighting vehicles, fighter-jets, warships and helicopter gunships along with tens of thousands of security forces in three years of conflict with extremists, including an affiliate of the Islamic State group in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.
The area has been under emergency law for several years and the entire country since April. Security forces have forcibly evacuated areas adjacent to the border with Gaza, razing residents’ houses and farmlands. They have blown up underground tunnels that authorities believe jihadis used to smuggle weapons and fighters in from neighboring Gaza, ruled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
These measures have shown few tangible results. The firepower and troop deployments in Sinai have kept militants from holding territory but have not prevented them from carrying out assassinations that terrorize the population and launching deadly attacks on military and police posts and convoys and recently a daylight robbery in Sinai’s largest town.
In a televised address, a livid Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt’s general-turned-president, pledged the use of “brute force” in response to Friday’s attack.
“The armed forces and police will forcefully take revenge for our martyred sons and restore security and stability in the short period ahead,” he vowed.