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Egypt kills 18 suspected militants in Sinai raid following deadly IS attack Open in fullscreen

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Egypt kills 18 suspected militants in Sinai raid following deadly IS attack

An Islamic State attack on Thursday killed ten security forces [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 May, 2020

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At least 18 suspected militants were killed in North Sinai, authorities said on Sunday.

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Egypt's interior ministry said 18 suspected militants were killed in North Sinai in a firefight with security forces, two days after a deadly blast claimed by the Islamic State group.

"National security received intelligence about terrorist elements hiding out in a home in Bir al-Abed, where they were planning to launch hostile operations," the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

"Their hideout was targeted and a firefight ensued which led to the death of 18 (militants)."

Security forces found 13 automatic weapons, two explosive belts and three other explosive devices in their possession, the ministry said.

On Thursday, Egypt's army said 10 soldiers, including an officer, had been killed or wounded in an explosion targeting an armoured vehicle near Bir al-Abed in North Sinai.

Militant group IS claimed responsibility for the attack, in a statement posted on its propaganda channels.

On Friday, the Egyptian army killed two suspected militants in North Sinai province, army spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said.

Security forces have been battlng a long-running Islamist insurgency in the area, spearheaded by a local IS affiliate.

The fighting intensified after the military's 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

In February 2018, security forces launched a nationwide operation against militants, focused on North Sinai. 

More than 800 suspected militants have been killed in the region along with dozens of security personnel, according to official figures. 

Since the launch of the Sinai offensive, Sisi's military has been accused by rights groups of widespread abuses and war crimes against civilians in the long-marginalised region. 

Meanwhile, families of Egyptians killed in the crossfire in the North Sinai have complained that their state benefits have been cut amid the coronavirus crisis that threatens to further cripple Egypt's battered economy.

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Authorities tasked with providing the special salaries to local residents have not explained why the benefits have been cut.

"Accidental" injuries and deaths acknowledged by the media are liable for payments from the authorities, locals told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site.

Favourable connections with the authorities play a large part in who receives such handouts, so many families in the especially marginalised areas of Rafah, Sheikh Zuwayid and the outskirts of Al-Arish go without. 

Hundreds of people are thought to receive such pay-outs, according to local sources.

The total number of civilian lives claimed by the conflict is unknown, but unofficial sources state that thousands have been killed or injured over the course of the insurgency. 

Rights groups have accused the Egyptian military of attacking civilians mistaken for militants, as well as inflating militant death tolls to include those of civilians.

The military has reported far more militant casualties than the estimated number of fighters in the area.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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