Egyptian army special forces man a temporary checkpoint outside Sharm el-Sheikh airport on November 11, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
At least eight Egyptian security forces have been killed and nearly a dozen others injured in the country’s restive Sinai Peninsula as the army begins a major operation to root out terrorists.
Citing security forces, local media reported that a police officer and four soldiers were killed after armed terrorists attacked a security patrol in Abu Taweela village in Shiekh Zwayed city of North Sinai on Sunday. Eight soldiers were also injured in the same incident.
Meanwhile, an officer was killed by sniper fire in el-Mokataa village.
Elsewhere, a soldier lost his life and two others sustained injuries after a roadside bomb targeted their armored vehicle in el-Gora village.
Security sources also said that another police officer was killed and a soldier wounded in similar attacks in Shiekh Zwayed town.
On Sunday, Egyptian military spokesman Mohamed Samir said in a statement that the army had launched a major campaign to “target terrorists and outlawed elements in several areas of North and Central Sinai.”
Samir said the campaign is bolstered by ongoing airstrikes against the militant positions where security operations are taking place.
This is the second comprehensive campaign launched by the army since “Operation Martyr’s Right” was first launched in September 2015 to root out militants operating in the restive peninsula.
The recent campaign was launched after Friday’s terror attack on a security checkpoint in North Sinai, which killed 12 Egyptian soldiers and wounded at least six more.
Daesh claimed that it had killed more than 20 soldiers while suffering no losses itself, but the Egyptian military said 15 assailants died in Friday’s gun battle at the checkpoint.
On Saturday, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi predicted a long battle against Sinai militants. The country’s jets also carried out a string of aerial attacks against Takfiri militants in the rugged and thinly populated region.
The Sinai Peninsula has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, following a deadly terrorist attack that left 33 Egyptian soldiers dead.
Over the past years, militants have been carrying out anti-government activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil caused in Egypt after democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted by the military in July 2013.
Velayat Sinai terrorists have claimed most of the assaults, mainly targeting the army and police.
In November 2014, the group pledged allegiance to Daesh, which is mainly operating in Iraq and Syria.