CAIRO (AP) — A leader of a Sinai-based extremist group has said his militants killed Egyptian soldiers because they serve an apostate army and those who are fighting Islam and killing Muslims.
Abu Osama al-Masri, the leader of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis or Champions of Jerusalem, made the statement in an audio recording released on the group's Twitter account late Friday. His group has claimed a series of deadly attacks targeting Egyptian security forces since the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year.
"This is advice for you: ... Pull your sons from the ranks of the apostate army ... or order them to leave it to rescue them from death," he says in the recording.
The recording sounded like previous messages released by al-Masri and corresponded with other Associated Press reporting.
Referring to the recent Egyptian army campaign against the militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula, al-Masri said soldiers forced people to leave their homes and destroyed their residences, as well as killed innocent people. Egyptian troops recently began demolishing homes along the country's border with the Gaza Strip, seeking to close hundreds of smuggling tunnels.
That demolition campaign began after an October assault on a checkpoint near Rafah killed 31 soldiers, the deadliest attack on Egypt's army in modern history. There has been no claim of responsibility yet for the attack.
The government, which also imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the area, says it is paying fair compensation for those who lost their homes, but residents complain that they did not have any choice as the army ordered them to leave their residences with just a day's notice.
In his message, al-Masri vowed to continue attacking soldiers.
"Come to Sinai to see ... what your sons have done," he said.