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Forty seven suspected militants, five troops killed in  Sinai

By AFP - May 16,2019 - Last updated at May 16,2019

Military forces are seen in North Sinai, Egypt,on December 1, 2017 (Reuters photo)

CAIRO — Egypt's army on Thursday said 47 militants and five of its troops were killed as part of its military offensive in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where it is fighting the Daesh group.

The suspected militants had "guns of different makes, ammunition, explosive devices in northern and central Sinai" in their possession, according to a slickly produced video statement posted on the armed forces' social media accounts. 

As part of the wide-ranging operation to secure Egypt's borders, 158 "criminal elements" were arrested.

The armed forces also neutralised 385 explosive devices that insurgents planted targeting security forces. 

The army did not specify when the deaths and arrests took place, saying only that they happened as part of "recent efforts" against militants.

The Sinai Peninsula, in the northeast of the country, is the epicentre of a hardened insurgency spearheaded by Daesh.

In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide operation against militants, focusing mainly on the north Sinai region.

Some 650 militants and around 45 soldiers have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to the armed forces.

No independent statistic are available to verify the deaths and the region is largely cut off to journalists.

Terror attacks have surged following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was replaced by former army general Abdel Fattah Sisi.

The Egyptian president has presented himself as a bulwark against terrorism and a rock of political stability amid a region in turmoil.

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