16 militants killed, dozens arrested in Egypt offensive

Ali Abdel aal

In its previously announced operation in Sinai, Egypt said it has killed 16 Islamist militants, destroyed dozens of weapons dumps, motorbikes and cars, according to a statement from the military.

The operation launched on Friday involves troops from the Egyptian air force, navy and ground forces as well as the police and border guards.

"The air force targeted and destroyed 66 targets used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks, and to escape from their bases during raids", the statement said.

The security sweep in the Sinai, the heart of a persistent insurgency by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, comes as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seeks re-election next month.

"The armed forces call upon Egyptian people in all parts of the country to closely cooperate with law enforcement forces to confront terrorism, uproot it and immediately report any elements threatening the security and stability of the country", military spokesman Colonel Tamer al Rifai said in a televised address.


The group, which has been involved in preaching, said militants have paid no heed to its "advice or guidance" against conducting attacks. The Sinai borders Israel and the Gaza Strip and has always been a bastion for Islamic insurgent groups tied to al-Qaida. Members of the armed forces are barred by law from expressing political opinions in Egypt. Konsowa said he had submitted his resignation to the army in 2014 and it was denied.

In the first part of 2017 IS stepped up attacks against Christians in Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt, claiming two deadly attacks on churches in Tanta and Alexandria on 9 April.

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

Egyptian security forces have so far killed hundreds of terrorists and arrested thousands of suspects during the country's anti-terror war declared by Sisi, the army chief then, following Morsi's ouster in 2013. Last year, militants attacked a Sufi mosque in the region, killing 311 worshipers.

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