Egypt launches assault on militants weeks ahead of election

Ahmed el tayeb

Al Azhar's Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb

Military Spokesman Colonel Tamer Rifaei on Friday announced a comprehensive military operation at all strategic fronts that is carried out by the Egyptian Armed Forces to uproot terrorism.

Egypt has been fighting extremist insurgency in northern Sinai since the army overthrew then-President Mohamed Mursi in 2013.

The security sweep in the Sinai, the Nile Delta and the Western Desert near the Libyan border comes as the country prepares for polls in March at which Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seeking re-election.

Rady pointed out that the armed forces and police are the only bodies responsible for issuing statements on the results of the Sinai 2018 Operation, noting that the presidency will release information regarding the current operations if necessary.

"Units from the naval forces are also tightening the security on the sea front, with the aim of cutting all supply lines to terrorist elements".

In a televised statement, the army's spokesperson explained that the goal of the operation is "to eradicate terrorism in Sinai and cleanse the area of terrorists", Israel's Channel 10 News network reported. Police and security forces have frequently been the target of deadly attacks staged by insurgents in the area.

The operation began amid local media reports of heightened alert levels in north Sinai hospitals and in other neighboring provinces in anticipation of casualties.

Most of the violence has been in North Sinai province, but there have also been attacks on the military, police and even churches elsewhere, including Cairo.

Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah crossing with Gaza virtually sealed since a terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, though they have temporarily reopened the crossing several times since that attack, mostly for the passage of humanitarian cases. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the mosque attack though.

"Great people of Egypt, in a continuation of law enforcement forces' efforts, elements of our air forces targeted some of the pits, hideouts, and ammunition and weapons warehouses used by terrorist elements as a base to target the law enforcement forces and civilian targets in North and Middle Sinai", he said. The offensive takes place less than three months after gunmen killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque in North Sinai.

Latest News