Egypt military, police launch security operation in Sinai against 'terrorists'

Frederick Owens
February 10, 2018

Abdel Aal said in previous statement on Thursday that Egypt has witnessed a severe decline in the number of terrorist operations in the last period thanks to the police and army's counterterrorism efforts.

Eyewitnesses said they saw armored vehicles and tanks deployed in North Sinai cities of Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid while blast smoke rose in the sky and communication networks were nearly cut.

Egypt has been under a state of emergency since April a year ago, after two suicide bombings at churches claimed by ISIS killed at least 45 people in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

The navy was boosting security at maritime borders "to cut off the influx of terrorists", he added.

The main threat to the security of Egypt comes from the north of the Sinai Peninsula.

The army's spokesperson announced the operation in a televised statement.

The ministry said its comprehensive security plan to curb the group's actions in Qalioubiya, Daqahliya, Beheira, Menoufiya, Sharqiya, Assiut, and Fayoum led to the arrest of 14 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood following raids on their hideouts on Friday, the ministry said.

Egypt launched a major security operation named "Sinai 2018" involving the army and police against "terrorist and criminal elements and organizations" across the country, mainly in Sinai, as part of the army's long standing crack down on the jihadist insurgency escalated since the ousting of ex-Muslim brotherhood-affiliated president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

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Over the years, most attacks have targeted soldiers and police, but civilians have also been killed.

Militants have also attacked tourists, killing all 224 on board a Russian plane carrying holidaymakers in 2015.

The New York Times reported this week that Israel has for more than the past two years carried out a "covert air campaign" against the jihadists in Sinai.

Egypt has denied the report.

The head of Hamas, the Islamist group which runs Gaza, was however permitted to travel to Cairo for talks before the border was closed a day earlier than planned.

It also carried out air strikes against IS in Libya in 2015 after a video was released showing the beheading of 21 Christians, nearly all Egyptian Copts, on a Libyan beach.

Military spokesman Colonel Tamer El-Rafei read the army statement "Communique 1 from the General Command of the Armed Forces" on state TV, which announced the launch of the operation.

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