16 terrorists killed in Sinai operation: Egypt army

Mohamed El-Shahed—AFP

The army destroyed 66 jihadist hideouts, 11 pickup vehicles and 31 motorbikes, he said in a statement.

On August 5, 2012, the army launched "Eagle 2" operation in North Sinai, following the deaths of 16 police soldiers during an attack on a police station in North Sinai near the Egypt-Israel border crossing Karam Abu Salem.

The military has launched security campaigns in the North Sinai area, in which some terrorists are based.

Suspicion for that attack fell on an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group in Sinai and Mr Sisi authorised troops to use "all brute force" necessary to restore "security and stability" to the region within three months.

Relations between Egypt and Israel have improved dramatically since the army ousted Islamist Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in July, 2013.

They added that the dead bodies of the 10 militants have been moved to a hospital in nearby Ismailia province.

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The former general had ordered the military in November to defeat militants in northern Sinai within three months, after an attack on a mosque killed more than 300 people, the deadliest such incident in the Arab world's most populous country.

The group generally targets Egyptian security forces in northern Sinai but also claimed an attack on a tourist site in southern Sinai in April of previous year.

Army spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said 16 jihadists had been killed and 34 detained during a "sweep and raids.in northern and central Sinai".

The air force also discovered and destroyed an explosives-making laboratory and a communications centre, as well as six cannabis and opium fields, he said. They are blamed for a series of bomb, gun and suicide attacks that have killed hundreds in Egypt. The mission, announced Friday, is meant to target "terrorist and criminal elements and organizations" across Egypt.

The offensive comes ahead a March vote that will undoubtedly see Mr El Sisi win a second four-year term.

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