Egypt's army kills 32 takfiris, arrests dozens in Sinai operation

Ahmed Eleiba, Thursday 21 Jun 2018

Armoured vehicles during raids of Operation Sinai 2018 (Photo: Egypt's army spokesman Facebook page)

Egypt’s military and police forces have killed 32 takfiris and arrested dozens of suspects in an ongoing crackdown in Sinai, the army said in a statement on Thursday.

The attacks are part of a major security operation, Operation Sinai 2018, which involves the army, navy, air force and police and which was launched in February to target and destroy “terrorist and criminal elements and organisations” in northern and central Sinai, parts of the Nile Delta and the country's Western Desert.

Army forces killed 12 "very dangerous" armed terrorist elements during raids in northern and central Sinai, while police personnel killed 20 others and arrested three, army spokesman Tamer El-Refaie said.

The armed forces’ spokesman announced the deaths in a video communiqué published on the Egyptian military's official Facebook page on Tuesday. The statement said the militants were killed over the past few days.

The air force, which has been conducting airstrikes in northern and central Sinai since the operation started, also recently destroyed 21 targets and two vehicles loaded with weapons in North Sinai, the spokesman said.

The Arabic word "takfiri" refers to hardline Sunni Muslims who accuse other Muslims of being infidels, often as a justification for using violence against them.

The deaths bring the total number of those killed since the operation began to more than 300, including at least 37 military personnel, according to calculations based on military statements.

The spokesman added that nine "very dangerous" militants and 84 criminal fugitives have been arrested in recent days, while 1099 people of different nationalities have been captured while attempting to enter Egypt illegally through the country's western border with Libya.

Forces have also recently destroyed 272 hideouts used by militants to store weapons in central and northern Sinai, and a weapon cache near the country’s western border.

Military engineers have discovered and destroyed 15 bombs planted to target forces at operation sites, he added.

Security forces have also recently uncovered and destroyed more than two dozen farms used to grow banned narcotics.

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