Egypt's Sinai under control: army commander

Ahram Online , Thursday 24 Apr 2014

On Sinai Liberation Day, the commander of Egypt's Second Army says the military is in complete control of the Sinai Peninsula; army to secure upcoming presidential elections

Egyptian army soldiers stand guard on the border with Egypt in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 5, 2013., (AP Photo)

Major General Mohamed El-Shahat, commander of Egypt's Second Army, affirmed that the military is in complete control of the Sinai Peninsula, where an armed insurgency targeting army facilities and personnel with ambushes and bombings is ongoing.

In a press conference commemorating Sinai Liberation Day on 24 April, El-Shahat denied reports to the effect that the army was losing its clasp, adding, however, that "terrorists" still operate in the strategic peninsula, reported state news agency MENA.

El-Shahat, who commands the forces stationed in North Sinai where the majority of attacks have taken place, said the army has destroyed 1583 tunnels connecting Sinai to the Palestinian Gaza Strip and through which, the army says, militants and weapons are smuggled into Egypt.

In the course of over 1380 military operations, El-Shahat said, 3957 pieces of weaponry have been seized. The commander did not specify the time frame during which these operations were undertaken.

The army has announced the "elimination" of dozens of militants since the spike of attacks that followed the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Meanwhile, hundreds of army and police personnel were killed during attacks in and outside of Sinai.

The military will be deploying over 25,000 soldiers to assist police forces in securing some 2141 voting stations during the country's upcoming presidential elections slated for 26 and 27 May, El-Shahat announced.

The Egyptian army took part in securing a constitutional referendum in January. The two days of the referendum witnessed no turbulence.

The largest attack to date took place in Sinai, when 25 army conscripts were killed by an RPG fired near Sinai's Rafah, days after two large pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo were violently dispersed mid-August by police, leaving hundreds dead. 

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