Egypt Independent

Egypt’s military says 173 “terrorists” killed in February campaign



The Egyptian military said it killed a total of 173 people, whom it described as "terrorists", in February through various means including helicopter strikes, raids and foiled suicide attempts in North Sinai's three major cities, Reuters-run Aswat Masriya reported, quoting an army statement.

Armed forces spokesman Mohamed Samir said in a statement on Sunday that this comes "within the framework of the armed forces' comprehensive plan to eradicate terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula."

The military operations were carried out in North Sinai's largest city al-Arish, Rafah which borders the Gaza Strip and Sheikh Zuweid, not far from the border.

The largest number of suspected militants killed is in Sheikh Zuweid, with over 120 killed.

Among the operations featured in the statement is one in which security forces "targeted one of the terrorists' headquarters during a meeting of 28 terrorists to prepare several improvised explosive devices ahead of using them against military and police personnel."

The result, the statement said, was the "complete destruction" of the headquarters and the "killing of all terrorists inside."

Other "terrorists" were killed during attempted attacks and bombings on security checkpoints and personnel. 

According to the statement, several of those killed belonged to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt's most notorious militant group.

The Sinai-based militant group has claimed more responsibility for attacks than any other group in the country. Ansar pledged allegiance to Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria last November, renaming itself as the "Sinai Province".

Militancy inside Egypt has seen a significant rise since July 2013, with most attacks targeting security forces in North Sinai.    

More than 300 were arrested from the three cities, including wanted individuals, but the vast majority are suspects.

Additionally, dozens of headquarters and meeting sites used by suspected militants were destroyed in last month's operations.