Egyptians officials say Daesh laid booby traps in civilian homes when they were forced to evacuate the town of Bir al Abd in July.

Military officers secure worshippers outside Al Rawdah mosque during the first Friday prayer after the attack in Bir al Abd, Egypt, December 1, 2017.
Military officers secure worshippers outside Al Rawdah mosque during the first Friday prayer after the attack in Bir al Abd, Egypt, December 1, 2017. (Reuters)

More than a dozen civilians, including women and children, have been killed in Egypt’s restive northern Sinai Peninsula over the past two weeks from explosive devices laid down in their homes by terrorists, security and medical officials said.

Daesh in July attacked several villages in the town of Bir al Abd, forcing people to flee their homes. The military then secured the villages in August and allowed residents to return to their homes a few weeks later, the officials said.

The militants, however, had laid booby traps in several houses that killed at least 14 people, including six from the same family late on Saturday, officials said.

The causalities included women and children.

At least ten others have been wounded since October 12 and were taken to the town’s hospital for treatment, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media.

READ MORE: At least 11 dead in attack on security forces in Egypt's Sinai

Restive area

Bir al Abd was the site of a horrific extremist attack on a mosque in 2017 that killed over 300 worshippers, some of them fathers praying with their young sons. 

The tribes of North Sinai have been heavily targeted by militants who view their veneration of Muslim saints and shrines as heretical, forcing a mass exodus of residents from the impoverished area that has long been underdeveloped by the government.

Violence and instability there intensified after the military overthrew the country's president in 2013 amid nationwide protests against the Muslim Brotherhood group's rule. Extremist militants have since carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and minority Christians.

The conflict has largely taken place out of public view, with journalists and outside observers barred from the area.

The conflict has so far not expanded into the southern end of the peninsula where popular Red Sea tourist resorts are located.

In February 2018, the military launched a massive operation in Sinai that also encompassed parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along the country’s western border with Libya. Since then, the pace of Daesh attacks in Sinai’s north has diminished.

READ MORE: Sisi's crimes in the Sinai Peninsula

Source: AP