Egypt set to launch 'comprehensive' army op in Sinai

Egypt set to launch 'comprehensive' army op in Sinai

Egypt's armed forces on Friday launched airstrikes against alleged terror organisations in north and central Sinai, while three alleged members of a militant group were killed by security forces in the capital Cairo, the opening moves in a major new nationwide security operation, officials said.

The goal is to tighten control of border districts and "clean up areas where there are terrorist hotbeds".

In recent months, dozens have been killed in gunfire exchange between Egyptian security forces and suspected militants.Egypt's Interior Ministry announced that the national alert level had been raised to "maximum security" in all governorates.

The spokesman added that the operation also includes other parts of Egypt such as the Delta and the western desert. Border Guard and civilian police forces are tightening the security procedures at the border gates, as well as tightening the security procedures for the watercourse.

Egypt has for years been battling an armed anti-government campaign in the rugged and thinly populated Sinai Peninsula, which has gained pace since the military overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013.

In 2014, following a suicide bombing that killed 33 soldiers, current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a state of emergency in the peninsula, describing it as a "nesting ground for terrorism and terrorists".

"In three months, with God's grace, and with your help and sacrifices and those of the police, Egypt will restore stability and security in Sinai", Sisi said.

The Associated Press has reported that the Egyptian army was bulldozing homes and olive groves to build "a buffer zone" around North Sinai Province's only airport in the city of el-Arish.

The main threat to the security of Egypt comes from the north of the Sinai Peninsula.

Hasm militant group claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks that killed several policemen since it emerged late 2016 and the group is seen by the police as the armed wing of the now outlawed Brotherhood group.

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