CAIRO: Egypt’s interior ministry said Sunday 18 suspected militants were killed in North Sinai in a firefight with security forces, two days after a deadly blast claimed by the Islamic State group, reports AFP.
“National security received intelligence about terrorist elements hiding out in a home in Bir al-Abed, where they were planning to launch hostile operations,” the ministry said in a statement.“Their hideout was targeted and a firefight ensued, which led to the death of 18 (militants).”
Security forces found 13 automatic weapons, two explosive belts and three other explosive devices in their possession, the ministry said.
Egypt’s army said Thursday that 10 soldiers, including an officer, had been killed or wounded in an explosion targeting an armoured vehicle near Bir al-Abed in North Sinai.
Militant group IS claimed responsibility for the attack, in a statement posted on its propaganda channels.
The army on Friday killed two suspected militants in North Sinai province, spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said.
On Sunday, the army released a video outlining its latest counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula, in which it said 126 suspected militants had been killed in 22 raids, while 15 military personnel had been killed or wounded.The army added that 228 “hideouts used by terrorist elements” had been destroyed and 266 “criminal elements” arrested.
Security forces have been battling a long-running Islamist insurgency in the area, spearheaded by a local IS affiliate.
The fighting intensified after the military’s 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
In February 2018, security forces launched a nationwide operation against militants, focused on North Sinai.
More than 925 suspected militants have been killed in the region along with dozens of security personnel, according to official figures.