Operation Sinai 2018 (Reuters)
Egyptian troops have killed 20 militants in recent days in the Sinai and the country's western desert, the army said in a statement on Wednesday as forces press ahead with an ongoing operation to crush militants.
Seven “extremely dangerous takfiris” were killed in an operation by air and land forces in the western desert in an area used "as a refuge by terrorist elements and a launching pad for carrying out hostile actions aimed at destabilizing the country," the statement said. It added that Egyptian forces seized weapons, ammunition and explosive belts that were in the militant's possession.
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.
Security forces killed another 13 takfiris in shootouts during various military raids in central and northern Sinai and arrested 18 criminal suspects.
The statement said the militants were killed over the past few days.
The attacks are part of a major security operation, Operation Sinai 2018, which was launched in February to eradicate terrorists in Sinai, the Nile Delta and the country's Western Desert. The months-long campaign involves the army, navy, air force and police.
The statement said military engineers in Sinai have discovered and destroyed 41 bombs planted to target forces at operation sites.
Border guards arrested 2,000 people of different nationalities while trying to infiltrate the western border and seized large amounts of banned narcotics. Air forces destroyed 38 vehicles used in trafficking along the frontier.
In the southern part of the country, forces seized five gold exploration and detection equipment, two tonnes of rock stones containing gold ore, and 26 vehicles used in trafficking, while 55 suspects of gold smuggling and mining have also been arrested.