Family members react at funeral of slain Egyp
Family members react at funeral of slain EgypReuters

Egypt's government has declared a three-month state of emergency in the lawless Sinai Peninsula, in response to two attacks which killed 31 soldiers Friday - making it the deadliest day since the start of an Islamist insurgency in Sinai.

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said jihadists terrorists pose a threat to the very existence of the country, and blamed their insurgency in the Sinai on "outside forces" seeking to destabilize Egypt.

"This is meant to break up Egypt and the Egyptians... Egypt is fighting a war of existence," he said in a national address Saturday.

Three days of mourning have been declared in the country after Friday's attacks - the deadliest of which saw 28 soldiers killed and dozens injured in a suicide bomb attack at a checkpoint near El-Arish.

Three more soldiers well killed later in a separate shooting attack inside El-Arish, which is the largest city in the Sinai Peninsula and the capital of the Northern Sinai governorate.

It is the latest in a string of bloody attacks against security forces in Egypt and part of a years-long Islamist insurgency which escalated following the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last year.

Most of the attacks in Egypt have been carried out by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the most active jihadi group in Egypt.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police over the last year since Morsi’s ouster, and beheaded several people in recent weeks, saying they were spies for Israeli intelligence.

Among the attacks claimed by the group since Morsi was deposed and replaced by Sisi was the assassination of a top Egyptian police general, who was gunned down as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, and a bus bombing on a tour bus filled with South Korean tourists in the Sinai.

The group has expressed support for Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists in Iraq and Syria, although it has not formally pledged its allegiance.

Its leader, Walid Attalah, was recently arrested, days after a large factory for manufacturing rockets belonging to the group was discovered and destroyed by Egyptian security forces.