Spokesperson for the Egyptian armed forces Ahmed Ali (Photo: Official Facebook page)
A military spokesman has denied that the identities of Islamist militants who kidnapped seven members of the Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula in May have been discovered.
"The Egyptian armed forces … have all the capabilities that allow them to reach the abductors and bring them to justice regardless of any threats or challenges," military spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali said on Thursday.
The seven members of the security forces were released on 23 May, six days after they were kidnapped. The identities of their kidnappers and the motives behind the release were not made clear.
A private Egyptian newspaper on Thursday quoted an anonymous military official as saying that the armed forces have tracked down the kidnappers but are reluctant to reveal their names or arrest them.
The kidnappers are reportedly part of Tawhid Wal Jihad, a hardline Islamist group which has been blamed for bomb attacks on Sinai tourist resorts between 2004 and 2006.
They had demanded the release of detained group members sentenced to death last September for attacking police in North Sinai in 2011, killing seven people.
The incident, however, has highlighted alarm over lawlessness and increasing militancy in the region, following the 2011 uprising that swept former president Hosni Mubarak from power.
On Sunday, suspected militants shot dead a counter-terrorism police officer in Sinai.
In April, militants fired two rockets from Sinai into Israel. They also attempted a number of cross-border raids.
In August of last year, 16 Egyptian border guards were killed by militants near Egypt's border with Israel and Gaza . Attackers hijacked two Egyptian army vehicles and crossed the border into Israel, where they were killed by Israeli security forces.