“Sinai Province” claims it killed 15 state-security soldiers by planting explosive devices on roads situated in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, according to Aamaq, a news agency affiliated with “Islamic State” (IS).
The agency reported early Sunday that “Sinai Province” militants intercepted a counter-attack by the Egyptian Armed Forces and captured two tanks.
This comes as clashes between the Egyptian Armed Forces and “Sinai Province” are on the rise in North Sinai, while conflicting news reports emerge from both sides regarding the outcome of these incidents.
Army spokesperson Mohamed Samir said military forces in Sinai killed 60 militants and injured another 40 on Friday in clashes in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah.
In a statement published on Facebook, Samir said the operation was carried out with the co-operation of the Egyptian Air Force.
Four police personnel were reportedly injured on Saturday night by an improvised explosive device’ (IED) that detonated ahead of their armoured tank in the city of Al-Arish, according to local media reports. The injured were immediately transferred to Al-Arish Military Hospital and a sweep of the area was conducted to detect any explosives, according to statements from security sources.
In another incident, bomb experts in Al-Arish succeeded in dismantling an explosive device on Saturday night, which was found on the road near Palm Plaza. This road is heavily used by state-security forces, according to statements by security sources.
Military expert General Nabil Tharwat told Daily News Egypt on Sunday: “Current military operations carried out by the Egyptian Armed Forces aim to completely eliminate IS militants in Sinai. These operations are considered the largest of their kind.”
Tharwat explained that Egypt is in a state of war against terrorism and the armed forces are focusing on intensifying intelligence efforts to accurately target IS-affiliated positions.
“Army intelligence plant operatives inside militant groups in Sinai so they can obtain information about their gatherings and movements. Recent successful air raids depended on such information provided by army operatives,” he said.
He further disputed widely-circulated claims on social media about random shelling targeting civilians by the army, arguing that weapons and other artillery found in IS-affiliated sites during raids, proving that civilian deaths are caused by militants.
According to Tharwat, militants in North Sinai usually hide in civilians’ homes to prevent the armed forces from being able to target them. However, he claimed the most recent attack was executed based on accurate information purportedly revealing that militants were centralised in a desert site and were preparing to launch several attacks on checkpoints.