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Seven soldiers, 71 militants killed in Egypt Sinai op

Egyptian Army's Armoured Vehicles are seen on a highway to North Sinai during a launch of a major assault against militants, in Ismailia, Egypt, on Feb 9, 2018. (Reuters)
CAIRO: Seven Egyptian soldiers and 71 militants have been killed since the launch of a wide-ranging operation to quell a Daesh affiliate in Sinai earlier this month, the military said.
“As a result of the heroic combat operations by our armed forces ... seven heroes of the armed forces were martyred,” military spokesman Col. Tamer Rifai said at a press conference aired Thursday on state television.
“71 extremists have been killed and five arrested,” he said.
Rifai added that 1,852 other suspects have been rounded up in the operation that began on Feb. 9, following an ultimatum by the President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to end the deadly insurgency.
Daesh attacks have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. The group has also killed over 100 Christians in the past year and targeted tourists.
El-Sisi ordered his security commanders to put an end to the attacks following a massacre at a northern Sinai mosque in November that killed more than 300 worshippers.
Daesh is believed to have carried out the attack on the mosque, frequented by Sufi Muslims, but it has not claimed responsibility.
The group’s Egyptian branch has used the north of the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Israel, as a staging ground for its attacks.
Officials say Daesh has tried to move fighters to Sinai following defeats in Iraq and Syria, where it has lost most of its territory.
Egypt is holding a presidential election next month, which El-Sisi is expected to easily win.

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