Police foil terrorist attack, kills 3, arrest 14
Written by Henry on February 9, 2018
Egyptian police foiled on Friday a terrorist attack, killing three terrorists and arresting 14 others, as part of a nationwide anti-terror operation, the Interior Ministry announced.
“Explosive devices and automatic guns were seized from the arrested persons, for carrying out other attacks before the beginning of the presidential elections,” the ministry said in a statement.
The terrorists were members of the outlawed Hasm group, and affiliated to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, the ministry added.
Earlier Friday, Egypt launched a major anti-terror operation to uproot terrorists in areas in Sinai, the Delta and the Western Desert, and the border cities.
The operation is launched as part of the efforts to reach the three-month deadline set by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to eliminate terrorism after the mosque attack that killed more than 300 people in the northern Sinai city of Arish in November, 2017, the Egyptian army said in an earlier statement.
Eyewitnesses saw armored vehicles and tanks being deployed in North Sinai cities of Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid.
They said smoke of blast was seen in the sky of western Rafah city, while sound of air raids were heard in northern and central Sinai.
Meanwhile, strict security measures have been enforced in the vicinity of vital institutions, national projects, religious houses, electricity and water plants, and major tourist sites, an official security source was quoted by the official news agency MENA as saying.
earlier, Egypt began a major assault against militants ocused on the Sinai peninsula, where Islamic State attacks have killed soldiers, police and civilians, aiming to crush their insurgency by an end of February deadline set by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Al-Sisi on Nov. 29 ordered the military to defeat militants in North Sinai within three months, after an attack on a mosque which killed some 300 people, the deadliest such incident in the Arab world’s most populous country.
Residents said they saw warplanes flying above the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, which borders North Sinai to the west.
To the northeast of the vast, remote desert region, people in the Gaza Strip said they heard explosions coming from Egyptian territory.
A military spokesman said the operation would cover large parts of Sinai, but also parts of the Nile Delta and the Western Desert, where other militants have waged attacks, some believed to be staged out of neighbouring Libya.
The campaign, which involves the army, navy, air force, border patrol and police, takes place ahead of a March election in which Al-Sisi is seeking a second term. He is widely expected to win.
Al-Sisi posted on his Facebook account on Friday: “I follow with pride the heroic actions of my sons in the armed forces and police to clear Egypt’s territory of terrorist elements.”
Security sources said on Thursday the operation, which had been in planning for some time, was unprecedented in its scope, coordination and size, involving thousands of troops, but did not provide further details.
Egypt’s 2018 presidential election will be held on March 26 to March 28.
The three-month deadline Al-Sisi gave the military would expire at the end of February.
The success or failure of the military’s latest push will most likely not affect the result of the election.
Al-Sisi faces only a single, last-minute challenger who has said he supports the incumbent.
All opposition figures thought to pose a serious challenge to Al-Sisi have pulled out of the race, accusing the government of underhand tactics to ensure Sisi an easy win.
Al-Sisi says there is equal opportunity for all candidates and that the election will be free and transparent
Egypt’s military has struggled to put down the Islamic State insurgency in Sinai since the group set up a branch there in 2014.
Islamist attacks against the army and police in Sinai had begun to escalate the previous year, and have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen.