Egypt’s armed forces on Friday launched airstrikes against alleged terror organisations in north and central Sinai, while three alleged members of a militant group were killed by security forces in the capital Cairo, the opening moves in a major new nationwide security operation, officials said.
Col. Tamer al-Refaei was quoted by Efe on Friday saying that the Egyptian army was intensifying its war in northern Sinai, which it had been fighting since 2014 against terror organisations including a subsidiary of the Islamic State, and over which the authorities have imposed a total media blackout.
“Elements of our air force targeted some of the outposts, weapons and ammunition stores used by terrorist elements as a base to target law enforcement forces and civilian targets in north and central Sinai,” al-Refaei stated.
In Cairo, the Egyptian Interior Ministry announced the deaths of three alleged members of the Hasm terror group in the capital but did not offer further details, in a statement published by the official MENA news agency.
According to the ministry, one of those killed was Salahadin Attia Ibrahim Omara, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political-social movement of former President Mohamed Morsi that was declared a terror organization after his ouster in 2013.
The ministry also said it had arrested 14 alleged militants in operations spanning five provinces the Nile Delta in the north and two provinces in Upper Egypt in the south, while the army had previously announced operations were to take place in the western desert.
The latest escalation in military activity comes in the run-up to Egypt’s presidential election in March.
On November 29, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gave the military a three-month deadline to clear the Sinai Peninsula of militants, days after terrorists staged a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in northern Sinai that killed over 300 worshippers.