CAIRO – Egypt’s armed forces announced on Sunday that 16 alleged militants had been killed as part of a new security offensive in the northern and central Sinai Peninsula, a military spokesman said.
Col. Tamer al-Refaei claimed that an additional 34 suspects were arrested during the Sinai military offensive, dubbed “Operation Sinai 2018,” which started on Friday in the restive peninsula and other parts of the country, according to a statement posted on his official Facebook page.
The colonel asserted that security forces were conducting “sweeping operations and large-scale raids on all axes and cities and villages in the north and central Sinai,” and added that an alleged field lab for manufacturing improvised explosive devices had been discovered and destroyed.
On Feb. 9, the Egyptian military and police began a major new security operation nationwide, focusing in particular on Sinai, 15 days before the presidential election campaign is to begin, with voting to be held in late March.
On Nov. 29, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave the military a three-month deadline to clear the Sinai Peninsula of militants, days after terrorists staged a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in northern Sinai that killed over 300 worshippers.
The Egyptian military and police have been fighting in Sinai against terror organizations, including a subsidiary of the Islamic State, since 2014.
Authorities have imposed a near-total media blackout on the counterinsurgency campaign.