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Egypt claims dozens militants killed in North Sinai clashes

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in the restive Sinai province [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 November, 2019

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The Egyptian army is continuing its campaign against IS affiliate Wilayat Sinai, claiming to have killed over 80 fighters between September 28 and November 4.
Egypt's army said Monday it had killed 83 militants in clashes in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where an Islamic State group affiliate has waged a long-running insurgency.

Security forces "eliminated 77 takfiris", referring to the extremists, who were found with stacks of weapons and ammunition in north and central Sinai, the army claimed.

Six other "highly dangerous" militants were killed in shootouts in the region, the army said in a statement on a nationwide anti-militant operation between 28 September and 4 November.

Read more: Blast-proof tourism: Egypt builds a wall around Sharm el-Sheikh to 'keep out terrorists and Bedouins'

Three soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting, the statement added, without elaborating. 

About 61 "criminals, wanted individuals and suspects" were arrested, it said. 

Security forces also destroyed dozens of hideouts and vehicles as part of the ongoing operation, according to the statement.

The Egyptian army releases periodic video statements heralding its recent achievements against militants in the Sinai.

Egypt has for years been fighting an insurgency in North Sinai that escalated after the military's 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests.

In February 2018, the army and police launched a nationwide operation against militants, mainly focused on North Sinai.

The operation has been accused of violating the rights of Sinai residents, the majority of whom are Bedouin communities who already face marginalisation from the Egyptian state.

An investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) found the Egyptian security forces guilty of rampant rights abuses, having put Sinai communities on lockdown, implementing communications blackouts, shuttering schools and universities, restricting the entry of vital goods and movement of people through numerous checkpoints.

Security forces have also engaged in a campaign of home demolitions in the Sinai, destroying over 3,000 homes and commercial properties, an anti-terror strategy Human Rights Watch has called a "self-defeating security plan" that "inflict[s] pain on Sinai residents".

The military operation also targets other areas including the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.

The latest army figures brings the death toll of suspected militants in the Sinai region to more than 830. 

About 60 security personnel have been killed since the start of the offensive.

Following the death of IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi late last month, the group's North Sinai affiliate has pledged allegiance to his successor, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi.

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