Army operations continue, as well as civilian deaths

Daily News Egypt
4 Min Read

During army counterterrorism operations in North Sinai, 45 militants were killed and 87 others were arrested, according to a statement by the military spokesman Sunday.

The operations cover the period from 16-21 March. Since the beginning of February the armed forces announced the death of more than 300 militants.

Despite efforts to eliminate insurgency in the restive peninsula, civilian deaths are still being reported. A North Sinai resident told Daily News Egypt that it is a “daily occurrence”.

The resident said on Sunday that a man was found dead on a road in the North Sinai town of Al-Arish.

Security personnel are also being targeted. Earlier in March a conscript was killed in a shooting in Egypt’s Rafah region. The incident followed two other attacks, one on a security camp and another targeted a military vehicle in Al-Arish on 10 March, killing a civilian, an officer and injuring more than 50, according to state-run news agency MENA.

Sinai-based militant group “State of Sinai” claimed the attack the same day. The group mostly claims the attacks in North Sinai, justifying the killing of civilians for allegedly being “army informers”.

Meanwhile, the armed forces also announced Saturday the destruction of 194 tunnel holes in Rafah between 1 February and 19 March, including a 2,000 metre-long tunnel.

The tunnel had seven holes, five of them opening up onto farm lands and two others opened in two houses in Rafah. Ammunition, including explosive devices and anti-tank missiles, were found beside the tunnel openings, according to a Saturday military spokesman statement.

The longest tunnel in North Sinai, at 2,500 metres long, was found in mid-February.

A 5km buffer zone is currently being implemented to destroy all smuggling tunnels leading in and out of Sinai, to avoid the infiltration of terrorists and weapons in the peninsula.

The decision to create the buffer zone follows the 24 October attack on security personnel in North Sinai that killed at least 30.

According to a November statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, out of 802 houses on the border, more than 80 were found to contain tunnels “affirming the necessity of relocating residents… to stem the unregulated flow of persons and materials”.

The first phase of the buffer zone which covers the first 500 metres from the Rafah border was completely evacuated and all houses in the area were destroyed. The move involved the demolition of 837 houses and the displacement of over 1,000 families.

The second phase is still being implemented with 1,220 houses marked for demolition in the area.

The government issues compensations for the dislocated residents for the value of their lands and houses in addition to an amount of EGP 1,500 distributed over three months until the families find other places to live.

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