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16 militants killed as Egyptian military launches operation in Sinai

12 February 2018, 12:31 | Austin Hogan

16 militants killed as Egyptian military launches operation in Sinai

16 militants killed as Egyptian military launches operation in Sinai

Sixteen militants were killed and 34 were arrested in a major crackdown in the Sinai Peninsula launched by Egypt on Friday, the army said on Sunday. He added that 11 pickup vehicles and 31 motorbikes were destroyed.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered the military to defeat Islamists in the region by the end of this month.

The military statement earlier on Sunday said forces involved in the operation had found a media centre with computers, communication equipment and books and documents related to jihadist ideology.

Apart from Sinai, the Egyptian army said the operation would also cover parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert, where other militants have waged attacks, some believed to be staged out of neighbouring Libya. The Sinai borders Israel and the Gaza Strip and has always been a bastion for Islamic insurgent groups tied to al-Qaida.

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

Army vehicles took up positions on the western bank of the Suez Canal
Army vehicles took up positions on the western bank of the Suez Canal

On August 5, 2012, the army launched "Eagle 2" operation in North Sinai, following the deaths of 16 police soldiers during an attack on a police station in North Sinai near the Egypt-Israel border crossing Karam Abu Salem. They are blamed for a series of bomb, gun and suicide attacks that have killed hundreds in Egypt.

Violence has been concentrated in north Sinai, but has also spread to the mainland.

However, the terrorist attacks intensified following the dispersal of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins of Rabaa and Nahda squares on August 14, 2013.

After a number of military offensives, the group is thought to have been weakened and switched from attacks on the military to softer targets such as mosques and Coptic Christian churches. Locals said the mosque was popular among Sufis.

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