The armed forces have arrested 25 “extremists” in the Sinai Peninsula as the security forces’ crackdown on militant activity in the volatile region continued.
A Palestinian national was among the 25 arrested during a series of raids on the “dens and hotbeds of terrorist elements”, said a Sunday statement from the armed forces. Another man arrested was “in possession of a laptop containing images, information and plans for terrorist operations”.
Hussein Ghanem, described by the armed forces as a “very dangerous extremist”, was also arrested following “a fierce chase and a heavy exchange of fire with troops”.
As part of the operation, the armed forces also confirmed the destruction of 4 cars and 16 motorcycles without licences. Troops also set fire to 31 “huts” and 6 houses, as well as recovering a wireless radio device.
Salam Swelam Al-Salat and Suleiman Swelam Al-Salat, two “extremists registered with state security”, surrendered themselves to troops in Sheikh Zuweid. This “phenomenon is the first of its kind as a result of a new style used to eliminate elements of extremism”, said the armed forces.
“We increased pressure on them [extremists],” said a member of the armed forces media office when explaining the new method. “There is more intelligence regarding their whereabouts, so there is not a chance for them to gather, start planning and carry out an attack.” He explained that some groups left the Sinai to the Nile Delta region because of the security crackdown in the peninsula and when they returned they were “unaware how much intelligence the armed forces had gathered”, making them easy to arrest.
A gunfight between security forces and gunmen in North Sinai resulted in the death of army recruit Mohamed Hefny earlier on Sunday.
The recruit was part of a unit securing the North Sinai city of Sheikh Zuweid and was involved in “an exchange of fire with gunmen on the El-Goura – Sheikh Zuweid road”, read a statement published by the armed forces on Sunday.
A member of the armed forces media office confirmed there were no injuries and that security forces are searching for the perpetrators in the surrounding area.
The armed forces also expressed condolences for Hefny’s family.
The armed forces asserted that it is “determined to continue its fight against black terrorism and groups of darkness that threaten the lives of Egyptians”.
Egypt’s armed forces are conducting an ongoing operation in the volatile Sinai Peninsula to combat the increase of illegal activity in the region, focused mainly in the North Sinai governorate. Militancy has been on the rise in the peninsula, particularly in the number of attacks on security personnel and facilities in the region, with many attacks being claimed by militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which was recently declared a terror organisation.
Additional reporting by Omar El-Adl