Operations in Sinai against militancy are ongoing, raising the death toll among alleged militants by eight individuals in central and North Sinai, according to the latest statement from the armed forces spokesperson, released early Tuesday.
Two conscripts were killed in action, while three others and an officer were injured, according to the statement.
The spokesperson announced that one incident happened in the Western Desert, where forces destroyed two trucks full of arms and ammunitions. In addition, 64 individuals were arrested, while large amounts of explosives and 15 IEDs (improvised explosive devices) were confiscated and dismantled.
Egypt has been battling several armed groups, concentrated mainly in the Sinai Peninsula, since the ouster of Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Since then, shootings that target security personnel and state officials have become a near-weekly occurrence in Egypt.
Since then, state security forces have been engaged in violent clashes with “Sinai Province”, a militant group previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS).
Early this week, dozens of alleged members of the group were added to the terror list. They are currently on trial for terrorism-related charges.
In November 2017, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi vowed to restore stability by eradicating terrorism, placing the military and police in charge of completing the task within a period of three months. This had followed a massive first-of-its-kind terror attack on a mosque in the city of Al-Arish, which killed at least 305 citizens.
Over the last two years, the Egyptian Armed Forces have launched counter-attacks against the militants’ stationing points across the Sinai Peninsula. The group mainly operates in the cities of Sheikh Zuwayed, Rafah, and Al-Arish.
A state of emergency was first declared in North Sinai by interim president Adly Mansour, who came to power following the ouster of Morsi. The state of emergency was extended following extremist attacks on Coptic churches on Palm Sunday last year.
Tuesday’s military statement said that army forces distributed food rations to Sinai civilians, an initiative announced by the military days after a critical statement from Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Earlier this week, in the statement, HRW accused the Egyptian army “of ‘illegal’ demolition of homes, commercial buildings, and farms in the North Sinai governorate since 9 February 2018, as part of its military campaign against an affiliate of the IS group there…[which included] hundreds of hectares of farmland and at least 3,000 homes and commercial buildings, together with 600 buildings destroyed in January, is the largest since the army officially began evictions in 2014.”
After HRW’s statement was published, the army denounced its assertions and accused the watchdog of building its report on unreliable sources.