Egypt launches military operation in Sinai, Nile Delta

Egypt launches 'major operation' after Sinai placed on alert

Egypt launches 'major operation' after Sinai placed on alert

Egypt on Friday launched a major security operation involving the army and police against "terrorist and criminal elements and organizations" across the country, the army spokesman said.

Air strikes targeted hideouts and weapons caches used in "attacks against law enforcement forces and civilian targets in northern and central Sinai", the state news agency MENA reported, citing an army spokesman.

The calls came amid an increase in military presence in the area and after Egypt imposed on 12 January a curfew on parts of the North Sinai region, including areas near the border town of Rafah.

The navy was boosting maritime border security "to cut off the influx of terrorists", he added.

The Sinai Province, the local ISIS affiliate, has claimed credit for some eight hundred of them.

Egypt's security forces have for years been battling the Islamic State (IS) group in North Sinai. The militants have expanded their targets to include civilians over the a year ago or so. Egypt also built a buffer zone along the border with Gaza to curb the flow of militants and weapons through a vast tunnel network under the border.

According to the paper, the North Sinai Security Directorate recently recalled all staff members from holiday to ensure that it was operating at its full capacity, while the Arish general hospital recalled all staff who were on vacation and announced a state of emergency on Wednesday.

Egypt has been fighting the jihadist insurgency in northern Sinai since the army overthrew then-President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The violence has been concentrated in northern Sinai Peninsula but has also spread to the mainland.

Following the bloody terrorist attack on Rawda mosque that killed more than 300 people in November 2017, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered his military command to use all force necessary to secure the Sinai Peninsula within three months. Egypt is now building a buffer zone around the airport.

Egypt has been under a state of emergency after suicide bombings struck two Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday a year ago in an attack that was claimed by the Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State group.

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