Egypt reports major success in Sinai Peninsula terrorism crackdown

Major assault launched against IS in Egypt

Sixteen militants were killed and 34 were arrested in a major crackdown in the Sinai Peninsula launched by Egypt on Friday, the army said on Sunday.

"The air force targeted and destroyed 66 targets used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks, and to escape from their bases during raids", an army statement said. It involves land, naval and air forces from the army and police, and covers north and central Sinai, the Nile Delta and the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.

On Friday, the Egyptian army launched a large-scale military operation aimed to eliminate terrorism in Egypt's troubled Sinai region.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is seeking re-election in March, ordered the armed forces in November to defeat militants 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.

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He said the Quick Response Team have cordoned off the area and isolated the terrorists who are holed up in a few houses. The Army said the terrorists had managed to enter the family quarters in the camp and the attack had been contained.

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The summary executions are believed to be carried out by Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a special forces commander for the LNA. Two people were killed on Friday after two bombs went off inside a mosque in the eastern city of Benghazi in Libya.

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.

It said many foreign countries have their eyes set on Sinai, claiming that terrorists carry out attacks in Sinai with "technological backing from intelligence [services] of countries hostile to Egypt".

North Sinai has been the center of terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers following the military removal of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 in response to mass protests. The mission, announced Friday, is meant to target "terrorist and criminal elements and organizations" across Egypt.

"Egypt has for decades suffered from a variety of terrorist attacks, but terrorism in recent years has taken a very risky turn", targeting all Egyptians, including the army and police, as well as churches, to provoke sedition between Muslims and Christians, and even mosques, the group said in its statement.

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