Egyptian army 'kills 16 militants' in Sinai operation

Posted February 12, 2018

Col Tamer al-Refaei said an additional 34 suspects were arrested during the offensive, dubbed "Operation Sinai 2018", which started on Friday in the restive peninsula and other parts of the country, according to a statement posted on his official Facebook page.

The Egyptian army also said that 66 terrorist points, arms depots, eleven vehicles and 31 unlicensed motor-bikes used by militants in their attacks were destroyed during the raids.

The operation, which targets "terrorist and criminal elements and organizations", involves land, naval and air forces from the army and police, and covers north and central Sinai, the Nile Delta and the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.

The group, which has been involved in preaching, said militants have paid no heed to its "advice or guidance" against conducting attacks.

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In November, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the military forces to restore security in Sinai within three months after militants killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque.

Most of the terror attacks were carried out by the so-called Wilayat Sinai (Sinai state or province), a Sinai-based group affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) regional terrorist group.

A spokesman said they found a communication centre, an explosives laboratory and six drug farms.

The military said its warplanes struck "terrorist concentrations and hideouts" in northern and central Sinai through the night and into the early hours of Saturday, targeting weapons warehouses and logistics support areas. The Sinai borders Israel and the Gaza Strip and has always been a bastion for Islamic insurgent groups tied to al-Qaida. No group has claimed responsibility for that attack.

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Egypt is quietly carrying out the operation with cooperation from Israel. Last year, militants attacked a Sufi mosque in the region, killing 311 worshipers.

Relations between Egypt and Israel have improved dramatically since the army ousted Islamist Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in July, 2013.

Last week the New York Times reported that unmarked Israeli aircraft were carrying out covert strikes in Egypt with the Egyptian president's approval.

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