by WorldTribune Staff, February 12, 2018
Egyptian forces have killed 16 jihadists and captured 30 others as part of a massive anti-terrorism operation in northern and central Sinai.
Meanwhile, a video said to be from the Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate in Egypt is calling on jihadists to carry out attacks during next month’s presidential elections and warned Egyptians to stay away from polling centers, The Associated Press reported on Feb. 12.
Egypt’s army said in a statement on Feb. 11 that 66 targets “used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks, and to escape from their bases during raids” were destroyed.
Additionally, a number of 4×4 vehicles, motorbikes and arms caches used by jihadists were destroyed in extensive raids as part of Operation Sinai 2018, which was launched on Feb. 9.
The operation includes land, naval and air forces, as well as the police and border guards, who the army said are targeting “terrorist and criminal elements and organizations” in northern and central Sinai, parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert.
The Egyptian army’s statement added that security forces also destroyed a media center with computers, wireless communication equipment, books and documents related to jihadi ideology. In addition, six farms used to grow illegal narcotics were found and destroyed.
The statement said that naval units from a Mistral helicopter carrier are patrolling the coast of Arish, the capital of North Sinai governorate, while other personnel have been deployed in Egypt’s southern desert and along mountainous paths near the southern and western borders to “thwart any attempt to sneak through international borders.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Egypt on Feb. 11 at the start of a regional tour that includes stops in Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
In a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Tillerson said “We agreed we would continue our close cooperation on counterterrorism measures. The Egyptian people should be confident that the U.S. commitment to continue to support Egypt in the fight against terrorism and bringing security to the Egyptian people is steadfast.”
Most terror attacks the Sinai Peninsula in recent years have been claimed by Sinai Province, Egypt’s ISIS affiliate.
The first round of Egypt’s presidential election will be held March 26-28. A second round will be held on April 24-26 if necessary.
President Abdul Fatah Sisi is expected to easily win a second term as most of the candidates opposing him have dropped out of the race.