Egypt's military said on Thursday that security forces have killed 53 takfiris since the army launched its massive counterterrorism operation in northern and central Sinai and other parts of the country over the past week.
The Arabic word "takfiri" refers to hardline Sunni Muslims who accuse other Muslims of being infidels, often as a justification for using violence against them.
The announcement was made at a televised conference – which was organised by the Department of Morale Affairs at the Armed Forces’ Media Centre and attended by local and international media – held to announce results of the joint mission of the Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018 anti-terrorism campaign since it started last Friday.
The top-ranking Army, Air Force, Police officers in charge of the military operations attended the press conference and answered reporters' questions.
Army spokesman Tamer El-Refaie said that five takfiris suspects and 680 others have been arrested, including "criminal elements" and people suspected of aiding takfiris.
On Friday, Egypt launched a major operation targeting "terrorist and criminal elements and organisations" in northern and central Sinai, as well as parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert. Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018 involves land, naval and air operations, as well as police and border guards.
Over the past week, army and security forces have destroyed around 400 hideouts used by the terrorists to store weapons and materials used in explosive devices, the spokesman told the conference. Air forces have also destroyed 137 “targets.”
Air Force Brigadier-General Alaa Dawara said that airstrikes were conducted outside residential areas.
Major General Yasser Abdel-Aziz Armed of the Armed Forces Operations Authority said that the military operations have adhered to "human rights regulations and standards, and full protection has been afforded to civilians in areas were security raids took place, mainly in central and northern Sinai."
Abdel-Aziz also said that in the two months prior to Operation Sinai 2018, 50 takfiris were killed, 200 were arrested and hundreds of hideouts were destroyed.
Border guards and military engineers uncovered and destroyed three tunnels along the northern Sinai border.
Thirty-five farms used to grow illegal narcotics were also found and destroyed.
Land, sea and air forces have also been conducting security patrols to combat attempts to smuggle arms or infiltrate through southern and western borders.
Air forces backed by a helicopter carrier have been securing the Suez Canal and northern coast of the Sinai Peninsula and naval units have been conducting military operations in several strategic regions.