by WorldTribune Staff, August 11, 2016
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has added to its arsenal of weapons by digging up and re-using mines buried by the Nazis in Egypt during World War II.
Cairo military and civilian officials said ISIL and other Islamist groups have dug up a number of the estimated 23 million landmines buried in Egypt’s desert and surrounding areas and are using their components for bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
In March, a group of terrorists used explosives they had taken from WWII landmines to attack an Egyptian army convoy, killing five soldiers.
“We’ve had at least 10 reports from the military of terrorists using old mines,” Fathy el-Shazly, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Newsweek. “Even now, these things trouble us in different ways.”
Of the 23 million landmines buried in Egypt, 17.5 million were planted between 1940 and 1943 during the battles involving Britain and its allies, including Egyptian forces, fighting German and Italian forces for control of North Africa.
More than three million mines have been removed since 1981 and Cairo’s government claims it will remove the remainder in the next three years.
More than 4,000 Allied servicemen died and another 9,000 were wounded in the WWII Battle of El Alamein in Egypt which saw Gen. Sir Bernard Montgomery’s troops defeat German Gen. Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps.
Under Gen. Montgomery’s command, nearly 200,000 British, Australian, New Zealand, South African, British Indian, Free French and Greek forces defeated the Axis powers.
At the time of the battle, which began on Oct. 23, 1942 and ended on Nov. 4, the Allies were fighting to keep their vital supply lines open from the Mediterranean to the East.
Recalling the importance of the Allied victory at the Battle of El Alamein, Sir Winston Churchill said: “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.”