Egypt says 47 Islamic State militants and five troops killed in Sinai battle

Egyptian soldiers in North Sinai, Egypt. Picture: REUTERS/MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY
Egyptian soldiers in North Sinai, Egypt. Picture: REUTERS/MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY

Cairo —Egypt’s army on Thursday said 47 militants and five of its troops were killed as part of its military offensive in the restive Sinai peninsula, where it is fighting the Islamic State (IS) group.

The militants had “guns of different makes, ammunition, explosive devices in northern and central Sinai” in their possession, according to a video statement posted on the armed forces’ social media accounts.

As part of the wide-ranging operation to secure Egypt’s borders, 158 “criminal elements” were arrested. The armed forces also neutralised 385 explosive devices that insurgents planted, targeting security forces.

The army did not specify when the deaths and arrests took place, saying only that they happened as part of recent efforts against jihadists. The Sinai peninsula, in the northeast of the country, is the epicentre of a hardened Islamist insurgency spearheaded by IS.

In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide operation against militants, focusing mainly on the north Sinai region. About 650 militants and 45 soldiers have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to the armed forces. No independent statistics are available to verify the deaths and the region is largely cut off to journalists.

Terror attacks have surged following the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was replaced by former army general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The Egyptian president has presented himself as a bulwark against terrorism and a rock of political stability amid a region in turmoil.

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