Egypt: Seven Militants Killed, 15 Soldiers Dead or Wounded in North Sinai

Saturday, 16 February, 2019 - 11:30
Cairo- Asharq Al-Awsat

Egypt's army said Saturday seven suspected militants were "eliminated" and 15 soldiers killed or wounded in an attack in the Sinai Peninsula, where troops are fighting the ISIS terrorist group.

Security forces responded to the attack on a checkpoint in restive North Sinai with an "exchange of fire", army spokesman Tamer el-Refai said in a statement.

"An officer and 14 non-commissioned soldiers were killed or wounded," he added, without giving a precise number for the dead.

Medical sources in North Sinai told AFP that 11 soldiers were killed in the attack.

“Combing operations and the pursuit and elimination of the terrorist elements in the area where the incident took place is ongoing,” Refai added.

The security sources said operations were taking place under aerial cover.

Since the army's overthrow of elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed in attacks by extremist groups.

Civilians have also been targeted in militant attacks, particularly members of Egypt's minority Coptic Christian community.

Egypt's army launched an offensive a year ago dubbed "Sinai 2018" on the orders of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after a militant attack in North Sinai killed more than 300 people at a mosque.

The army says that more than 550 suspected militants have been killed in the offensive -- which has also targeted militants elsewhere in Egypt -- at the cost of more than 30 soldiers.

Sisi has called on Western countries to boost efforts at tackling extremist ideology in online media and mosques.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference Saturday, the president said countries must "tackle websites that are inciting hatred and spreading extremist and terrorist narratives among communities in the Islamic world and in the West."

He also said authorities should "be very mindful of what is being promoted at houses of worship," adding that extremists should not be allowed to preach. He underlined his efforts in Egypt to control the sermons in mosques.

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