The border unrest and escalating reports of militant and criminal activity in the Sinai region are seen as a test for Egypt’s new president, its first Islamist head of state. The Washington Post reports:
Morsi is under heavy pressure to endorse a crushing crackdown on militants in the Sinai, but any missteps or abuses could trigger a backlash from Islamists, his main political base.
On Tuesday, Morsi stayed away from the military funeral for the 16 slain soldiers – a conspicuous absence for a leader whose thorny relationship with the military is being closely watched. Angry Egyptians heckled and tried to assault Prime Minister Hesham Kandil when he arrived for prayers before the funeral, prompting his security detail to whisk him out.
[W]hile Morsi’s victory in Egypt’s first free presidential election marked a watershed moment for Egyptian Islamists after decades of repression, it also set up a potential standoff between his government and religious extremists, who are willing to launch attacks against the state in order to further their own agenda.
“Those who carried out this crime will pay dearly,” Morsi said, according to the Guardian. “Clear orders have been given to our armed forces and police to chase and arrest those who carried out this assault on our children. The forces will impose full control over these areas of Sinai.”
No group has taken credit for the attack.