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Egypt reports successes in Sinai operation against militants

Egypt reports successes in Sinai operation against militants

"The armed forces call upon Egyptian people in all parts of the country to closely cooperate with law enforcement forces to confront terrorism, uproot it and immediately report any elements threatening the security and stability of the country", military spokesman Colonel Tamer al Rifai said in a televised address.

The Egyptian army says it killed 16 fighters and imprisoned more than 30 others in a major military operation launched in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

In November, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered the military forces to restore security in Sinai within three months after militants killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque.

Apart from the Sinai, the Egyptian army has said "Operation Sinai 2018" would also cover parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert, where other militants have conducted attacks, some believed to be staged out of neighbouring Libya.

The air force also discovered and destroyed an explosives-making laboratory and a communications centre, as well as six cannabis and opium fields, he said.

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"The air force targeted and destroyed 66 targets used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks, and to escape from their bases during raids", the statement said. As a result, the army carried out two massive military operations; In August 2011, the army launched "Eagle 1" against militants who claimed responsibility for bombing the Egypt-Israel gas pipeline in Arish in July 2011.

Egypt is quietly carrying out the operation with cooperation from Israel.

In November past year, militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque in the Sinai Peninsula and then sprayed gunfire on panicked worshippers as they fled, killing at least 305 people and wounding at least 128 others. They are blamed for a series of bomb, gun and suicide attacks that have killed hundreds in Egypt.

Islamist insurgents have been targeting security forces since 2013 when the army, then led by Sisi as army chief, ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood following mass protests against his rule. Locals said the mosque was popular among Sufis.