Egyptian Forces Kill 52 Terrorists in Sinai

CAIRO (Reuters) -
The Egyptian army’s armored vehicles are seen on a highway to North Sinai during a major assault against terrorists, in Ismailia, Egypt. (Ministry of Defense/Handout via Reuters)

Egyptian troops and security forces have killed at least 52 suspected terrorists in recent days, the army said in a statement on Sunday, as authorities push ahead with an operation to crush Islamic State.

The deaths bring to more than 300 the number of suspected Islamist terrorists killed in the operation that the Egyptian army, backed by police and other security forces, launched in February as part of a campaign to eradicate insurgents behind a wave of violence in the desert region.

The statement, issued by the Defense Ministry, said that troops and security forces also destroyed 15 vehicles laden with weapons and ammunition while trying to infiltrate the western border, and 17 more in the southern military region.

In Sinai, the statement said that 13 “extremely dangerous takfiris” were killed in an operation by security forces in the city of al-Arish, the capital of North Sinai province. Egypt uses the term takfiri to refer to Islamist terrorists who often accuse their victims of being infidels.

The remaining 39 terrorists were killed in various military operations across northern and central Sinai, the military statement said, without giving any breakdown.

The Egyptian military has said that hundreds of terrorists have been killed in the operation, which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered after an attack on a mosque last November in which hundreds died.

The deaths have raised the count to at least 313 suspected terrorists killed, according to a Reuters count based on military statements.

At least 35 military personnel have also been killed since February, according to a Reuters count based on military statements.

Defeating Islamists and restoring security after years of unrest has been a promise of Sisi, who was re-elected in March in a landslide victory against no real opposition.

Sisi’s critics say his presidency has brought a harsh crackdown on dissent, but supporters say such measures are needed to stabilize Egypt, which was rocked by years of unrest after protests toppled veteran leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.