Egypt hits Sinai targets

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s military has destroyed dozens of targets, killed 16 militants and detained over 30 suspects as part of its latest operation against militants in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, the army said yesterday.

Army spokesman Colonel Tamer el-Rifai said that airstrikes hit vehicles, weapons caches, communications centres and illegal opium fields in the sweep, which began on Friday and comes as a response to a pickup in extremist violence in Egypt.

“The air force targeted and destroyed 66 targets used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks,” for shelter during raids by security forces, he said in a statement.

A burned truck is seen outside Al-Rawda Mosque in Bir al-Abd northern Sinai, Egypt. – AP

The operation, which targets “terrorist and criminal elements and organisations,” involves land, naval and air forces from the army and police, and covers north and central Sinai, the Nile Delta and the Western Desert along the porous border with Libya.

The offensive comes ahead of a March vote that will undoubtedly see President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi win a second four-year term, after all serious opponents have been sidelined or driven out of the race.

El-Sissi, who has waged one of the most sweeping crackdowns on dissent in Egypt’s modern history, claims he is the only one who can restore Egypt’s security, and ordered the Sinai operation after militants struck.