Egyptian army near Al-Arish in the Sinai peninsula (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian troops in the border Sinai Peninsula have killed fourteen Islamist militants and arrested dozens of others, state news agency MENA reported, as part of an ongoing campaign to root out Islamist insurgents in the region.
Raids on militant hideouts in the northern Sinai towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah on Saturday killed fourteen Islamist fighters in a firefight with security forces, MENA said early Sunday
Forty-seven other suspects were arrested, security sources said, and 18 shacks and buildings used as bases for terrorist attacks were destroyed, security sources said.
Egypt has been hit by an upsurge in Islamist militancy led by Sinai-based militants that has mainly targeted security forces since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last summer and an ensuing crackdown on his supporters.
Upwards of 500 policemen and troops have since been killed in militant attacks that have extended to the capital Cairo and the Nile Delta.
Militants have rebuffed authorities' reports of the killings and arrests, with one group claiming recently that the army announces "fictitious victories" in its war against Sinai militants.
On Saturday, four children were killed in the northern Sinai town of El-Jour when a mortar round was fired at their home, in an apparent attack by militants against soldiers, security officials said. Also on the day, a solider was injured when gunmen in Sheikh Zuweid opened fire at him.
Egypt's military launched large-scale operations in the underdeveloped region to quell the burgeoning insurgency, killing hundreds of militant fighters and arresting hundreds of suspects.
The army has also cracked down on a network of smuggling tunnels between the border peninsula and the Gaza Strip, which officials say are used to smuggle money and weapons by militants on both sides.
Forces had recently destroyed 13 of the passages, driving the number of tunnels shut down since the campaign began in late 2012 to 1,639, the military said in a Saturday statement.