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Cigarettes war: Tension escalates between tribes and ISIS in Sinai

Tuesday 18-04-2017 - 02:35 PM
Mohamed Arabi
ISIS destroying cigarettes
ISIS destroying cigarettes smuggled in petrol truck in Sinai, Egypt
Sinai (Egypt) -  In the wake of the “war over cigarettes” that has erupted between members of the Tarabin tribe (a local tribe in the Sinai Peninsula), and the so-called The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as Daesh) militants have escalated the tension between both factions into gorilla warfare, over the past two days. in the north of Sinai. 

The backdrop of this recent attack started by ISIS militants shooting at two trucks belonging to the Al-Tarabin tribe, that were smuggling in cigarettes, Egyptian security officials said, Monday.

The unrest started when ISIS militants, mostly non-Sinai factions, crossed from Egypt to the Peninsula, and attacked the trucks of smuggled cigarettes in a shooting spree. Tribal members tried to smuggle ‘two trucks of cigarettes’ across the border into Gaza. The tribe usually uses two trackless routes which are, Abu Hilwa and Al-Tayyra, situated in central and southern Rafah, respectively. The routes are used to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip.

ISIS follows a strict adherence of Islamic law that prohibits the sale of tobacco, tribal members said. ISIS also has a type of ‘tacit or implicit instructions’ with Sinai tribes, by which the terrorist group imposes strict restrictions on smuggled goods. 

ISIS militants launched RPG attacks on Sunday in their stronghold around the city of Rafah in response to the kidnapping of three ISIS fighters by local tribes, the Associated Press reported.

ISIS militants then set fire to the two trucks, kidnapped and lynched two tribe members. They also tracked some goods-laden trucks that were on the Al-Hakal road, some 17 kilometer away from southern Rafah, and seized them completely.

When a young man from the Tarabin tribe fired back at them, ISIS militants stormed the ‘Tribal Council’ of the family of al-Hakki with heavy gunfire.

Al-Hakki family appealed to their tribal brethren and cousins from neighboring tribes to come to the rescue.

Armed elements from the Tarabin tribe immediately rode 12 four-wheel drive vehicles, besieged Al-Barth market, (their weekly market), and combed the market area carefully. They managed to identify and capture two terrorists with whom they found two communicators, and then took them into custody in central Sinai.

ISIS group responded by pushing about 100 of its members, who were riding four-wheel drive vehicles, attempting  to break in the village of Al-Barth, located in between al-Sawarka tribe and Tarabin tribe, but the Tarabin’s tribesmen fought valiantly and repelled ISIS terrorist attacks, making them turn tail.

A tribesman told Al-Bawaba that members of the Tarabin tribe had interrogated the two detained terrorists, who admitted that they had kidnapped and killed members from the tribe, the last of which was last month when ISIS terrorists murdered two people in the village of Al-Barth.

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