Vehicles of Egyptian Army and police special forces are seen in the troubled northern part of the Sinai peninsula during a launch of a major assault against militants, in Al Arish (Reuters)
Egypt's Armed Forces spokesman Tamer El-Refaie said that Egyptian army and police personnel carrying out Operation Sinai 2018 are performing their duties with high morale,adding that 105 takfiris have been killed since the anti-terrorism operation started on 9 February.
The Arabic word "takfiri" refers to extremist Sunni Muslims who accuse other Muslims of being infidels, often as a justification for using violence against them.
El-Refaie added that there is no time limit on the operation, which will conclude when it achieves its goals.
Operation Sinai 2018 was launched “to implement the plan of comprehensive confrontation of terrorist and criminal elements and organisations in North and Central Sinai, and in other areas in the Nile Delta and desert areas west of the Nile Valley,” according to the Armed Forces.
The spokesman said during a press conference that 16 army personnel have been killed and 19 others have been injured during operations.
The army has also located and destroyed five tunnels, two communication and broadcast centres, 41 4x4 vehicles, 387 motorbikes, 471 IEDs, in addition to large amounts of TNT and plastic explosives.
El-Refaie added that 461 people have been arrested while trying to illegally migrate.
Another 2,829 people were arrested for being wanted in criminal cases or on suspicion of providing logistical assistance to terrorists. Many of those arrested have been released after being cleared of any charges, according to the military spokesperson.
The army has also destroyed 1,907 targets used as shelter by terrorists, as well as storehouses containing medical equipment, weapons, ammunition, mines and materials used in manufacturing improvised explosive devices.
Operation Sinai 2018 involves land, naval and air forces, as well as police and border guards.
The military spokesperson said that all measures are being taken to prevent any attempt to breach the country's land and maritime borders.
El-Refai said that naval forces are imposing full maritime control over the Mediterranean and the Red Sea to prevent any possible infiltration by terrorist elements or logistical support across the coast.
He also stressed Egypt’s respect for the sovereignty of all countries sharing its geographical borders, and that Egypt is fully coordinating with its neighbours to secure the borders and exchange information on the presence and movement of terrorist elements.
The military spokesman stressed the state’s commitment to human rights and providing full protection to civilians in areas where operations are taking place as well as across the country.
He also said that the army is carrying out its duties in cooperation with the Ministry of Supply to provide necessary food and other supplies to Sinai residents in the areas of operation.
Border guards, in cooperation with forces tasked with securing the Suez Canal waterway, are continuing their mission to protect navigation and tighten security measures at the crossings leading to the Sinai Peninsula, El-Refai said.