An army officer was killed and another injured Friday as a newly found tunnel they were inspecting collapsed in North Sinai’s Rafah, a military spokesman told Daily News Egypt Saturday.
The armed forces are combating “terrorism” in the peninsula through taking a range of security measures, including the destruction of smuggling tunnels which connect the peninsula with the Gaza Strip, as to avoid “terrorist infiltration” and “smuggling weapons”.
The army is further establishing a 5km wide ‘buffer zone’ along the border with Gaza. The first 500metres from the borders have been evacuated in order to flatten buildings. The armed forces are currently executing the second evacuation phase which covers additional 500metres, with third and fourth phases yet to be planned.
The buffer zone was initially planned to be 1km however the decision to extend the buffer zone came following the discovery of 1,700metres long tunnel in late December. An even longer tunnel was discovered mid-February; with 2,500metres the longest tunnel discovered in Sinai.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi referred, following North Sinai’s largest attacks on 24 October and 29 January, to the involvement of “foreign elements”.
The armed forces aim to “ultimately eliminate terrorism” with military campaigns launched in the restive peninsula involve aircraft and ground forces to target “terrorist outposts”, according to state-run MENA news agency Saturday.
Sinai-based militants group “State of Sinai” posted Saturday 14 photos of several destroyed houses and animals killed claiming it to be the “effect of the indiscriminate shelling” by the armed forces in North Sinai.
The photos include armed forces helicopters while allegedly shelling houses in North Sinai.
The veracity of the photos could not be independently confirmed. The army has repeatedly denied “State of Sinai” photos are taken in North Sinai.
The group has been aiming over months to win North Sinai’s residents on its side through distributing leaflets threatening with decapitations if any of the residents collaborated with the army and urging the residents to take their sides.
Reports that a militant march has taken place in North Sinai’s Rafah circulated Friday. North Sinai journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa confirmed the reports, adding that the march took less than an hour. Last week, a similar march would have taken place in Sheikh Zuweid, with militants reportedly asking residents to join their side.