On Monday, militants killed 25 policemen after ambushing two buses transporting security personnel in the North Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. That area shares borders with the Gaza Strip and Israel and has a large region that is known to be lawless.
Monday’s attack is amongst the deadliest in the Sinai Peninsula since 2011, when Hosni Mubarak was overthrown as the president and is part of a bigger backlash against the government over what the militants say are many injustices.
Last week close to 900 people were killed in violence that lasted four days and began when government forces cleared two sit-in protest camps in the middle of Cairo. The sit-ins were in support of the ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
Reports about the cause of the police deaths on Monday were conflicting. Officials in charge of security told news agencies that all 25 police had been shot execution-style when the two vehicles were ordered stopped by militants. Witnesses said the men were forced to lie down and then were all shot.
At first, officials said the police had been shot and killed when rocket propelled grenades were shot by militants at the two vehicles.
The Sinai Peninsula is a long arid stretch of desert and mountainous land that has become more and more lawless. Since police were pulled off the streets during the ouster of Mubarak, the state has not regained control of the area, giving the militants in the north nearly free reign.
Informal sharia courts were set up by residents as the society has become increasingly detached from the government and state, and is very hard line Islamic.
In the region, criminal activity is thriving including trade that goes on through tunnels with people in the Gaza Strip including arms smuggling.
Weapons from Sudan and of recent Libya have flowed through including missiles. A large number of the arms have entered Gaza, while others stayed on the peninsula and are used by the militants there.