EGYPT (OBSERVATORY) – Three Egyptian soldiers and 30 jihadists were killed in the Sinai desert last week, the military said on Wednesday, as it launched an extensive military campaign to eliminate “terrorist elements” in the north and center of the troubled peninsula.
Some 200 jihadis and at least 33 soldiers have been killed since Operation Sinai 2018 started on February 9, according to official figures released by the Egyptian army.
The death toll of the jihadists includes “the leader of the terrorist organization in central Sinai, Nasser Abu Zuqul,” who was killed by the army last week.
The army also confirmed in a statement on the page of its spokesman on Facebook, “the arrest of 173 others in northern and central Sinai.”
Since the military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 after huge popular protests, security forces, especially in northern Sinai, have been battling violent anti-jihadist groups, including the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State Organization (SINAI).
The extremist jihadist organization has killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, especially in its stronghold in northern Sinai, but its attacks spread to other cities and targeted Copts, especially in attacks on several churches.
In late November, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, chief of staff of the armed forces, ordered the re-imposition of security in Sinai within three months, with the use of “all brute force”.