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Egypt's army intensifies home demolitions in Sinai campaign

Egypt's army has destroyed over 3,000 homes and commercial properties in Sinai. [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 May, 2018

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At least 3,000 homes and commercial properties have been destroyed in the Sinai Peninsula, where Egypt's army is waging a war against militants.
Egypt's army has drastically stepped up its demolitions of homes, businesses and farms in the Sinai since launching a widespread campaign against militants in February, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.

At least 3,000 homes and commercial properties have been destroyed in the Sinai Peninsula, HRW says, where Egypt has battled a long-running militant insurgency.

More than 600 homes were destroyed just before the latest army operation in the area.

"Turning people's homes into rubble is part of the same self-defeating security plan that has restricted food and movement to inflict pain on Sinai residents," said HRW's Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson.

"The Egyptian army claims it is protecting people from militants, but it's absurd to think that destroying homes and displacing lifelong residents would make them safer."

The New York-based group said the demolitions and forced evictions - near the border with the Gaza Strip in northern Sinai - was making an already perilous humanitarian situation worse. 

It said it sent letters to the defence ministry and the local governor over the demolitions but had yet to receive a response.

An army spokesman declined to comment on the HRW report when contacted by AFP.

Around 200 militants and at least 33 soldiers have been killed since the Egyptian military launched its operation against the Islamic State group affiliate in February, according to official figures.

In late November, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi gave three months for his security forces to re-establish control in Sinai, a deadline since extended.

Sisi secured a second term with an overwhelming victory in a presidential poll in March, in an election widely seen as a farce after opponents were jailed or forced to withdraw from the race.

The president extended a nationwide state of emergency originally declared in April 2017 by a further three months.

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