Egyptian air force pounds Sinai militants

Marsha Scott
February 12, 2018

Egypt's Salafi Call, a group of ultra-orthodox Salafi Muslims, said it is backing Egypt's army it its battle against terrorism, two days after a major counterterrorism operation focused on Sinai was launched.

The army destroyed 66 militant hideouts, 11 pickup vehicles and 31 motorbikes, he said in a statement.

On Friday, Egypt launched Operation Sinai 2018, involving land, naval and air forces, as well as the police and border guards, targeting "terrorist and criminal elements and organizations" in northern and central Sinai, as well as parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert.

In November, extremists killed 311 worshippers in a mosque attack in north Sinai, the deadliest such killing in Egypt's modern history, prompting el-Sissi to give security forces a three-month deadline to restore order using "all brute force" required.

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.

They added that the dead bodies of the 10 militants have been moved to a hospital in nearby Ismailia province.

The air force also discovered and destroyed an explosives-making laboratory and a communications centre, as well as six cannabis and opium fields, he said.

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Egypt's armed forces Saturday continued what it describes as "intensive airstrikes against terrorist targets and gatherings" in Central and North Sinai.

Egypt denied this, and Israel declined to comment.

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

And last September Sissi met Netanyahu for the first time in public, the encounter coming ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in NY.

In November past year, militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque in the Sinai Peninsula and then sprayed gunfire on panicked worshippers as they fled, killing at least 305 people and wounding at least 128 others.

Hundreds of police and army personnel were killed since then.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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