CAIRO: Egypt’s army said yesterday it had killed 16 jihadists and detained 34 more in the Sinai Peninsula since launching a major operation against them on Friday. The security sweep in the Sinai, heart of a persistent Islamic State group insurgency, comes as President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi seeks re-election next month. 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 army destroyed 66 jihadist hideouts, 11 pickup vehicles and 31 motorbikes, he said in a statement.
It also discovered and destroyed an explosives-making laboratory and a communications centre, as well as six cannabis and opium fields, he said. Egypt’s security forces have been increasingly targeted by jihadists since the army in 2013 overthrew Sisi’s predecessor, Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. In November, Sisi ordered his armed forces chief of staff to restore security in Sinai within three months after militants killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque. No group has claimed responsibility for that attack. “Operation Sinai 2018”, which involves the air force and navy, is also to target jihadists in the Nile Delta and Western Desert near the border with Libya.- AFP