CAIRO, Egypt — The Egyptian army said Tuesday its forces killed three terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula and destroyed tunnels at Rafah on the Gaza border as part of a vast campaign against jihadists.
More than 200 suspected terrorists and at least 35 soldiers have been killed since Egypt launched operation “Sinai 2018” to rid the peninsula of Islamic extremists in February, according to the military.
Operations carried out in recent days resulted in “the elimination of three takfiris,” the army said, referring to Sunni Muslim radicals.
They also led to the “destruction of a number of tunnels in the city of Rafah in northern Sinai,” it said in a statement.
“A conscript was wounded in clashes with terrorists” and “two civilians died as a result of an explosion from a device targeting forces conducting raids,” it added.
The Rafah border crossing is the only entrance to the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel, and Egypt’s sole frontier with the Palestinian enclave has remained largely closed since 2013.
Egyptian authorities believe these tunnels are used by terrorists to enter North Sinai.
Jihadists launched an insurgency in Sinai after the military overthrew Egypt’s elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his rule.
Human Rights Watch says Egypt has stepped up its demolitions of homes, businesses, and farms in the Sinai since launching the campaign on February 9.
The army says that local people in the Sinai support its operation and receive humanitarian aid.