Egyptian army (Photo: Al-Ahram)
The width of a new military buffer zone established along Sinai's border with Gaza this month has been increased another 500 metres, making it now span 1 kilometre, in an effort by the Egyptian army to take out tunnels used by militants to infiltrate the peninsula.
The Egyptian army said in a statement on Monday that the decision comes after the discovery of tunnels spanning between 800 and 1000 metres under the Sinai border, reported Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.
The army's decision to create a buffer zone on the border - 500 metres wide and 14 kilometres long - came following one of the deadliest attacks on its personnel last month, when 30 soldiers were killed in a daylight assault by militants.
By early December, a total of 1156 families will have been evacuated from their homes in the Rafah area when Egypt's army completes the buffer zone with the aim of fighting terrorism on the North Sinai-Gaza border.
Only 93 houses are remaining and are to be demolished within two days, the military said.
Egypt's Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC) said a total of 802 houses hosting a total of 1156 families will be removed in the initial 500 metre evacuation.
The evacuees have been promised swift compensation, but some residents have complained the evacuation notice was too short and the compensation too little.
The Egyptian army has been facing a decade-long jihadist militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, with militant attacks increasing over the past year since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.