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Egypt’s military says it kills 53 militants in week-long offensive

680 people detained in Sinai operation

By Reuters - Feb 15,2018 - Last updated at Feb 15,2018

This photo taken on Thursday from the western Gaza Strip border town of Rafah shows a smoke plume rising on the Egyptian side of the border following an explosion (AFP photo)

CAIRO — Egypt's military and police forces have killed a total of 53 Islamist militants and arrested 680 suspects in a week-long offensive to crush insurgents that is focused on the Sinai Peninsula, a military spokesman said on Thursday.

President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who is seeking reelection in March, ordered the armed forces in November to defeat militants within three months after an attack on a mosque in Sinai killed more than 300 people.

The attack was the deadliest of its kind in Egypt, which is the Arab world's most populous country and a main regional ally of the United States.

The security operation, which involves the army, navy, air force and police, began last Friday and targeted "terrorist and criminal elements and organisations" in north and central Sinai, parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert, Colonel Tamer Al Rifai told a news conference broadcast on state television on Thursday.

He said forces have destroyed over 1,000kg of explosives, 378 militant hideouts and weapon storage facilities including a media centre used by the militants.

He added that 680 people, some of them suspected militants or wanted criminals, were also detained in the operation. 

The air force, which has carried out more than 100 air strikes in northern and central Sinai since the operation began, has focused on militant hideouts outside residential areas to avoid hitting civilians, air force Brigadier General Alaa Dawara said.

Major General Yasser Abdel Aziz of the Military Operations Authority said the operation would end when Sinai was free of "terrorists".

"It could be extended or shortened according to the situation and that is what will be determined in the coming days," Abdel Aziz told journalists.

He said after the military operation, Egyptian authorities would push ahead with a comprehensive development plan for Sinai.

Outside the peninsula, the Egyptian military said the operation would cover parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert, where other militants have waged attacks, some believed to be staged out of neighbouring Libya. 

The insurgency poses the greatest challenge to the government in a country that is both the most populous in the Arab World and a main regional ally of the United States.

Islamist insurgents have been targeting security forces since 2013 when the army led by Sisi, then the army chief, ousted president Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, following mass protests against his rule.

Some local residents have raised concerns over food and medicine shortages in the peninsula after the army blocked all access to the area. 

 

Rifai said the armed forces has cooperated closely with local authorities to coordinate the delivery of food, medical assistance and other supplies in compliance with local and international laws and human rights norms.

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ALTHOUGH THIS WILL MAKE SOME PEOPLE FEEL VERY GOOD BUT CAN IT SOLVE THE COMMON DENOMINATOR OF THIS UNDECLARED WAR AGAINST THOSE WHO NEEDS MENTAL TREATMENT IN ADDITION TO ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION. THE IS LIKE DEATH PENALTY WHICH STUDIES AFTER STUDIES HAS CONCLUDED THAT IT DOES NOT WORK. WHAT IS THE LIKELY PROBABILITY THAT SOME INNOCENT CIVILIANS MAY HAVE BEEN COUGHT ON THIS DRAG NET? IF ONLY ONE UNINTENDED CASUALITY CAN MUTATE INTO AN EXPONENTIAL JIHADIST ACTIVITIES AND THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE CONTINUES. IT IS TIME TO TRY SOMETHING NEW THAT CAN BRING THE BAD APPLES INTO A NORMAL LAWS AND ORDER OF CITIZENSHIP. IT IS VERY SAD TO SEE THE MIGHTY EGYPT DECEND INTO THESE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE.

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