Egypt’s military and police forces have killed at least 19 Takfiri militants and detained scores of others in the Sinai Peninsula amid an ongoing military campaign against the Daesh terrorist group.
The militants were killed in an exchange of gunfire in the restive region over the past few days, the military said in a statement on Thursday.
Security forces also detained 20 suspects in a continuing crackdown against extremists across the troubled area.
According to calculations based on military statements, the latest deaths bring the total number of those killed since the beginning of the operation to at least 296, including 35 military personnel
The army launched the latest campaign on February 9 after President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi gave it a three-month deadline to crush the Takfiri terrorist group in Sinai.
Sisi has said Daesh's setbacks in Syria were driving its terrorists to try to relocate to Libya and Sinai. The group has killed hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold and elsewhere in Egypt.
In November last year, over 300 people, including dozens of children, were killed and over 130 others injured in a shooting attack and bombing at a mosque in the restive Sinai Peninsula.
The Sinai Peninsula has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, after a deadly terrorist attack left 33 Egyptian soldiers dead.
Over the past few years, terrorists have been carrying out anti-government activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt that erupted after the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup in July 2013.
The Velayat Sinai group, which is affiliated with Daesh, has claimed responsibility for most of the assaults. The group later expanded its attacks to target members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community as well as foreigners visiting the country, prompting Cairo to widen a controversial crackdown, which critics say has mostly targeted dissidents.