Egypt military spokesman Tamer El-Refaie (Photo courtesy: Official Facebook Page)
Egypt’s military and police forces have killed 19 "takfiris" and arrested 20 criminal suspects over the past few days as part of an offensive to crush terrorism in the northern and central Sinai Peninsula, the Armed Forces spokesperson said on Thursday.
Ten takfiris were killed in an exchange of fire with army forces during raids in northern and central Sinai, the spokesman said in a video showing footage and photos of the operation, which was published on his official Facebook page.
Police forces killed another nine takfiris in the North Sinai capital city of El-Arish, Colonel Tamer El-Refaie added.
Twenty criminal fugitives and suspects have also been arrested.
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.
The army operations are part of Operation Sinai 2018, which involves the army, navy, air force and police, and was launched in February to target “terrorist and criminal elements and organisations” in northern and central Sinai, parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert.
The statement is the 22nd communiqué released by the Armed Forces since the launch of Operation Sinai 2018.
The air force, which has been conducting airstrikes since the operation began, destroyed a vehicle loaded with weapons near the western border, the statement added.
Security forces also destroyed "a number of underground hideouts" and three tunnels used by militants in North Sinai as well as a weapons cache in the central part of the peninsula.
Military engineers discovered and destroyed three bombs planted to target forces at operation sites, the statement added.
Security forces also discovered and destroyed six farms used to grow illegal narcotics in central Sinai.
They also intercepted vehicles smuggling drugs near the country's western and southern borders.
Meanwhile, security forces foiled an attempt by 25 people of different nationalities from illegally crossing the country's southern border, and 401 people of diffrent nationalities from illegally crossing the country's western borders.
The armed forces has dispatched food convoys to distribute large quantities of food and other necessary goods to citizens in north and central Sinai to meet their needs especially during the month of Ramadan.