Egypt’s Interior Ministry said in official statement on Thursday that five militant stationing points were targeted during sweeping operations conducted from both police and military forces inside the North Sinai city Al-Arish. The statement added that the stationing points were targeted as part of the ongoing wide-scale military operation ‘Sinai 2018′, and that they were identified -based on information obtained by security apparatuses on the militants’ location.
The statement highlighted that police operations alone inside North Sinai have led to the deaths of a total of 36 militants. Police had been seizing weapons, ‘Improvised Explosive Devices’ (IEDs), and seized 347 gas tubes which were for manufacturing IEDS.
Moreover, 210 suspects were arrested, while 176,888 houses, 83 families, and 768 farms were subjected to inspections.
Last Friday, marking one month since the start of the comprehensive military operation, Egypt’s official spokesperson for the Armed Forces Tamer al-Refaei said in a press conference that 105 “takfiris” (militants) have been killed in the counter-terrorist operation, which began on February 9.
He used the Arabic word “takfiri” to refer to extremists who accuse other Muslims of being non-believers, as a justification to use violence against them.
On the expected length of the operation, Refaei noted that there is no time limit and that it will conclude when its goals are achieved, he added that 16 army personnel have been killed and 19 others were injured during the duration of operations.
He further explained that the armed forces participating in the operation located and destroyed five tunnels, two communication and broadcast centres, 41 four-wheel-drive, 387 motorbikes, and 471 IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).
On the arrests, he noted that 461 people have been arrested while trying to illegally migrate, while another 2,829 people were arrested for being wanted in criminal cases, or on suspicion of providing logistical assistance to the militants.
“Many of those arrested have been released after being cleared of any charges,” Refaei said
The army has also destroyed 1,907 targets used for shelter by terrorists, as well as storehouses containing medical equipment, weapons, ammunition, mines, and materials used in manufacturing IEDs, according to Refaei.
In response to the increasing terrorist threat in North Sinai, the ‘Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018’ was launched by different branches of the army, including the Second and Third Field Armies located in Sinai, in addition to the participation of police forces.
The operation aimed to comprehensively confront terrorist and criminal elements and organisations in North and Central Sinai, as well as in other areas in the Nile Delta and the desert west of the Nile Valley, according to an army statement released at that time.
Since 2014, North Sinai has witnessed a growing number of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic State-affiliated (IS) group Sinai Province, including various attacks against the army and the police.