Egypt kills 36 terrorists, arrests 345 suspects

Above, smoke billows following an explosion in the north of the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt has been battling militants for years. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2018
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Egypt kills 36 terrorists, arrests 345 suspects

CAIRO: Egypt’s military said Monday that 36 militants, an officer and three soldiers were killed over five days during a sweeping operation against Daesh militants in the Sinai.
The army launched the campaign on Feb. 9 after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who is standing in elections this month for a second term, gave it a three-month deadline to crush Daesh in the Sinai.
Security forces “eliminated 30 armed takfiri elements during a shootout with raiding forces” in the northern and central Sinai Peninsula, the military said in a statement.
A police shootout also left six “takfiri elements” dead and destroyed “an extremely dangerous terrorist cell,” it added.
Over the past five days, soldiers also arrested 345 people “including a number of extremely dangerous takfiri elements and fugitives,” it said.
An officer and three soldiers were killed in the fighting, while three officers and five soldiers were injured, it said.
El-Sisi issued his ultimatum in November after suspected Daesh gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers at a Sinai mosque associated with Sufi Muslim mystics.
Security forces have sought to quell attacks by an Egyptian hard-line group that later declared allegiance to Daesh since the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, following mass protests against him.
The group has killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold but also elsewhere in Egypt.
The militants have also killed scores of Christians in church bombings and shootings.
Daesh claimed the 2015 bombing of a Russian airliner carrying tourists from the South Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, which killed all 224 people on board.


Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

Updated 18 September 2018
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Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

  • Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport
  • Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the country

TRIPOLI: New clashes flared between rival militias south of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday, causing widespread power outages, the national electricity firm said.
The fighting underscored the fragility of a United Nations-backed cease-fire reached earlier this month after days of deadly violence between armed groups in the capital, beset by turmoil since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport, according to witnesses including an AFP journalist.
Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the North African nation’s south and west.
Fighting which broke out late last month killed at least 63 people and wounded 159 others — mostly civilians — before the cease-fire came into effect on September 4.
Last week, the capital’s only working airport came under rocket fire just days after reopening following the truce.
Mitiga International Airport, located in a former military base that includes a prison, is currently controlled by the Special Deterrence Forces, a Salafist militia which serves as Tripoli’s police force and has been involved in clashes around the capital.
Interior Minister Abdessalam Ashour said Monday that a “regular force” would be tasked with securing the airport.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame later reported 14 cease-fire violations around Tripoli, but sought to play them down, saying the deal had been “generally respected.”
Tripoli’s main airport has been out of action since it was severely damaged by similar clashes in 2014.
Since Qaddafi’s fall in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been rocked by violence between dozens of armed groups vying for control of its cities and vast oil resources.
A UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015 established the Government of National Accord (GNA) in a bid to ease the chaos.
But deep divisions remain between the GNA and rivals including military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in eastern Libya and backs a competing authority.
The GNA last week announced a series of measures to secure the capital and curb the influence of militias over state institutions and banks.