Cairo (AFP) – Egypt’s military said Tuesday it has killed 38 militants and arrested more than 500 jihadists and suspects days after launching a major operation against an Islamic State group affiliate in Sinai.
The military said it had killed 10 “extremely dangerous” extremists, in addition to 28 jihadists it had previously announced as having been killed.
A statement added that 400 “criminal elements and suspects” had been arrested, having previously announced the arrest of 126 people.
The dead jihadists had been “hiding inside a house in the vicinity of El-Arish city (North Sinai province’s capital) following a shoot-out,” spokesman Colonel Tamer al-Rifai said in the statement.
The operation has also destroyed several vehicles and warehouses, he said.
On Friday, the military announced the start of “Operation Sinai 2018” in the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel, the central Nile Delta and the Western Desert near the border with Libya.
The security sweep comes as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seeks re-election in March, after a first term in office that has seen him crack down on an Islamist insurgency and other opponents.
Egypt’s security forces have been increasingly targeted by jihadists since the army — then headed by Sisi — overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Militants linked to IS and based in North Sinai have waged a deadly insurgency against the country’s security forces.
Egypt’s air force and navy have also been taking part in the operation, with the Sinai sweep focusing on targets in the north and centre of the peninsula.