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Egypt’s major operation in Sinai kills 16 militants

Army vehicles patrol the streets in Egypt's North Sinai. (AFP)
CAIRO: Egypt’s “Sinai 2018” operation killed 16 militants, arrested four, destroyed 66 targets and detained over 30 suspects in the northern Sinai Peninsula, the army said on Sunday.
Based on intelligence, SUVs, motorbikes and arms depots used by militants were destroyed during the operations, the Egyptian Army said in its announcement via state TV.
Egypt’s Army has announced the launch of a major, comprehensive anti-terrorism operation in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday. An army spokesman has stated that military and police will join forces against “terrorists and criminal elements and organizations” across the country aiming to protect the country’s borders.
The operation commenced by intensifying air raids on terrorist targets Saturday morning.
The robust strikes targeted weaponry, ammunition and explosives warehouses, and logistical support, with the air forces continuing to secure air space strategically over border areas, said armed forces spokesman Tamer El-Refaie.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi ordered the military to defeat militants in north Sinai within three months after an attack on a mosque in November killed 300 people, the deadliest terrorist attack in the country.
“The announced casualties and results today obviously show that the operation is on track to succeed in eradicating terrorism in the three months period,” said Brig. Adel Mahmoud Al-Omda, adviser at Nasser Military Academy.
“The developed intelligence over the past period about the militants’ locations, logistics and arms is the basis for the operation and clearly it is hitting its targets,” Alomda told Arabnews.com.
Residents said that the shelling targeted locations close to Egypt’s border with Palestine. 
Painful to residents but highly needed, the comprehensive plan included closing gas stations selling fuel, phones and Internet were down for several hours, school classes were indefinitely suspended, and some hospitals were transformed into military units.
Moreover, the operation on the ground included police forces combing residential areas of the central and northern Sinai. Border guards and other forces are carrying out missions to secure navigation in the Suez Canal and thwart attempts of terrorists to escape. 
The navy is also tightening control on the seafront from Rafah to western Al-Arish, to cut supply lines for terrorists, while maintaining the security of economic installations in the area.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry raised the country’s security alert level to its highest level nationwide, in light of the anti-terrorism campaign. 
Since 2012, when the current wave of terrorism began in Sinai, the Egyptian Army has conducted a number of large-scale operations in the region. It also increased its operations over the past year after a number of major attacks against civilians, soldiers and police, mosques and churches.
The attacks have been affecting the country’s primary GDP source — tourism — and has been derailing the stability of the region and threatening the security of citizens. With the upcoming presidential elections in March, El-Sisi needs to win this war, no matter the cost.

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