WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Egypt organized a massive security operation on Friday targeting Islamic militant groups in areas where they are most active.
- The operation covered land, sea and air forces to contain an Islamic insurgency by “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations.”
- The nation was placed under a state of emergency after Palm Sunday suicide bombings last year hit two Coptic Christian churches in an attack that was claimed by the Egyptian subsidiary of the Islamic State group.
Egypt has long been struggling to curb an Islamic insurgency in the Sinai region areas including the unruly northern Sinai Peninsula. The country launched an operation early Friday to contain the insurgency.
Egyptian army spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifaai said that airstrikes were carried out by the air force on militant hideouts in both north and central Sinai. He also said that the navy was deployed to cut off their supply lines. Increased security has been implemented around the country’s border crossings and key facilities.
North Sinai hospitals were on heightened alert in anticipation of casualties. Local businesses including gas stations were ordered to close down.
Col. el-Rifaai said in a statement that military forces killed at least 20 militants in the north Sinai town of Bir al-Abd. Militants are also being hunted south and west of the town of Rafah, on the border with the Gaza strip.
The military operation was launched in preparation of the presidential election in March. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is running for a second term. He won in 2014 with promises of restoring security in the nation.
In what is reported as the deadliest attack in Egypt’s modern history, militants killed 311 worshippers in a mosque attack in November.
This pushed el-Sissi to give the military a three-month deadline to reinstate security in northern Sinai. He also ordered his chief of staff to use “all brute force.”
Militant attacks escalated following the military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. He was unseated after mass protests against his divisive regime.
Source: US News