Egypt army: 172 Sinai militants killed in February



CAIRO // Egypt’s army said Sunday at least 172 militants were killed in February in joint police and military operations in the restive Sinai Peninsula where security forces are battling a militant insurgency.

The militants were killed in a series of security operations in the peninsula after a deadly January 29 attack by extremists left 30 people dead, mostly soldiers.

The army said the militants were killed in the north Sinai cities of El Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and in the town of Rafah that borders Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Another 229 suspected extremists were arrested in these operations, while 85 militant hideouts were destroyed last month, the army said in a statement accompanied by a picture of a suspected militant shot dead.

Egypt’s army has poured troops and armour into the region to fight an insurgency since ex-president Mohammed Morsi was ousted in July 2013.

Most attacks are spearheaded by Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, the Egyptian affiliate of ISIL.

It says the attacks are in retaliation for a brutal government crackdown against Morsi supporters that has killed hundreds and put thousands behind bars.

The group also claimed the January 29 attack in which two car bombs and a barrage of rockets hit a military base and an officers’ residential complex in El Arish.

That attack was carried out despite a state of emergency and curfew in parts of north Sinai and a buffer zone being established in Rafah to prevent infiltration of militants from Gaza.

* Agence France-Presse

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