Reports conflict on whether Ansar militants swore allegiance to Islamic State

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There have been conflicting reports on the veracity of a statement thought to be issued by Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, in which it swears allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Reuters reported on Monday that Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis had said in a statement: “After entrusting God we decided to swear allegiance to the emir of the faithful Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, caliph of the Muslims in Syria and Iraq and in other countries.”

Reuters said that the group told the news agency that “it sought inspiration and advice from Islamic State”.

However, according to Aswat Masriya, a Twitter account that claims to belong to Egypt’s most active terrorist group denied on Tuesday pledging allegiance to Islamic State.

Aswat Masriya added it “could not independently confirm which of these conflicting accounts truly represents Ansar’s position”.

“The group has been using different accounts at different times and some of them have been closed at various points,” the news agency said.

Meanwhile, a senior Egyptian official denied reports of Islamic State presence in the Sinai Peninsula, Al-Arabiya News Channel reported.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya’s Randa Abul Azm, North Sinai Governor Abdel-Fattah Harhoor said that although insurgents followed tactics similar to the Islamic State, the militant group is not present in the peninsula.

Egypt’s security forces have been battling jihadist insurgency since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

A three-month state of emergency was declared in parts of North Sinai last week by the government following attacks that killed at least 31 security personnel. In addition, a five-kilometer buffer zone along the Gaza-Egypt border is being created.