The Egyptian army on Saturday launched a wide-scale operation against terrorists in the northern Sinai, Egyptian media reports said. Operation “Desert Storm,” aimed at eliminating terrorist activity in the peninsula, will reportedly continue over the next two days.
Military personnel from two field armies were reported to have begun blocking roads, bridges and tunnels leading from northern Sinai to other Egyptian regions. The Egyptian Navy and Air Force were also taking part in the operation.
According to Egyptian intelligence, there are at least 500 armed extremists operating in the peninsula, Al Ahram reported.
Since the ouster of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi earlier this month, a wave of violence has swept across the Sinai. On Thursday, terrorists killed two soldiers and wounded four others in a shooting attack on a military checkpoint.
On Wednesday, a car bomb detonated near a police training camp close to the northern Sinai city of el-Arish, killing three militants.
Also in the north of Sinai on Wednesday, Islamists attacked security checkpoints in el-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, killing a civilian and a soldier. Three troops were wounded, security officials said.
Altogether, a total of 17 members of the security forces and at least five civilians have been killed in the area since the July 3 overthrow.
The Muslim Brotherhood has denied playing a part in the escalating violence, but one of the group’s leaders was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that the insurgent attacks would end as soon as “the legitimate president” is freed from detention.