Egyptian army says 16 militants killed in Sinai operation

Egyptian troops in North Sinai

Sixteen militants were killed and four arrested in a major security operation launched by Egypt on Friday, the Egyptian military said on Sunday, the first casualties in a campaign aimed at crushing insurgents behind a string of attacks.

The statement also said forces involved in the operation found a media center with computers, communication equipment, as well as books and documents related to Jihadi ideology.

He gave the order in November after a gun and bomb attack on a mosque killed more than 300 people.

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamist militant insurgency based in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula that mainly targets security forces.

The operation has been conducted by the second and the third field armies, in cooperation with Air Forces, military commando troops, Rapid Deployment Forces, and the Minutes of Interior, Refai said, noting that the all forces are combing the areas.

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Security forces also uncovered and destroyed six farms used to grow banned narcotics, the statement said.

Last week the New York Times reported that unmarked Israeli aircraft were carrying out covert strikes in Egypt with the Egyptian president's approval. North Sinai has witnessed many terrorists attacks since the January 2011 revolution.

Naval units from a Mistral helicopter carrier have continued to comb the coast of Arish, the capital of North Sinai governorate, while police and coast guards intensified security measures and patrols, including in Egypt's southern desert and through mountainous paths along the southern and western borders, to "thwart any attempt to sneak through global borders".

In a Facebook posting on his account, Sisi wrote: "I follow with pride the heroic actions of my sons in the armed forces and police to clear Egypt's territory of terrorist elements". The army said it has killed hundreds of militants in military operations there. IS has beheaded a number of Sufi men whom it accused of "sorcery".

No group has claimed responsibility for that attack.

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