Forty-seven fighters and five Egyptian soldiers were killed during Egypt’s ongoing military offensive in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where it is fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group.
The fighters had “guns of different makes, ammunition, explosive devices in northern and central Sinai” in their possession, according to a video statement posted on Thursday on the armed forces’ social media accounts.
One of the Egyptian troops killed included an officer, it said. As part of the wide-ranging operation to secure Egypt’s borders, 158 “criminal elements” were arrested.
The armed forces also neutralised 385 explosive devices targeting security forces. The army did not specify when the deaths and arrests took place, saying only the fighting happened as part of “recent efforts” against armed groups.
The Sinai Peninsula, in the northeast of the country, is the epicentre of violence spearheaded by ISIL-linked fighters.
In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide operation against armed groups, focusing mainly on the North Sinai region.
Some 650 fighters and about 45 soldiers have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to the armed forces.
No independent statistics are available to verify the death toll and the region is cut off to journalists.
Attacks against security and civilian targets have surged following the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi, who was replaced by former army general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Sisi has presented himself as a bulwark against “terrorism” and a rock of political stability in a region in turmoil.