Egyptian security forces kill 15 in restive North Sinai

Interior ministry says security forces exchanged fire with fighters after storming their hideout in El-Arish.

    Egypt has battled an insurgency led by an ISIL affiliate for years in the Sinai Peninsula [EPA]
    Egypt has battled an insurgency led by an ISIL affiliate for years in the Sinai Peninsula [EPA]

    Egyptian security forces killed 15 fighters in a shootout at a farm in restive North Sinai, the interior ministry said.

    A statement on Sunday said an armed group was "planning hostile acts targeting military and police forces ... in order to destabilise national security".

    It did not name a specific organisation but said "terrorist elements" had been hiding at the farm in El-Arish, the capital of North Sinai province.

    When security forces approached, the fighters "shot live rounds forcing troops to deal with them [and] leading to 15 deaths", without specifying when the raid took place.

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    No casualties were reported among Egyptian police. 

    Authorities also said they found a small trove of stashed weapons including an explosive device, a belt used for suicide bombings and several rifles.

    Sunday's announcement follows recent military operations in Sinai that authorities say killed 118 fighters.

    The statement came three days after an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS) attack on a checkpoint in the town of Bir el-Abd killed eight troops and a civilian. Security forces killed at least 15 fighters in that attack.

    President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi paid tribute to the dead personnel in a series of tweets on Friday, describing "terrorism" as a "cancer still trying to kidnap the nation".

    In February 2018, Egypt's military launched a nationwide offensive against armed groups focused mainly on North Sinai, where ISIL has a significant presence.

    Some 665 fighters and about 60 soldiers have been killed since, according to official figures.

    Sinai, Sisi and the media

    The Listening Post

    Sinai, Sisi and the media

    SOURCE: News agencies