Egypt army kills 16 jihadists in Sinai

Egyptian troops in North Sinai

It referred to a November attack on a mosque in North Sinai that killed more than 300 worshippers, the deadliest such attack in Egypt's modern history, as well as the 2015 killing by militants of Nour Party leader Mostafa Abdel Rahman, secertary of the party in Arish, who was shot by unidentified gunmen.

Col Tamer al-Refaei said an additional 34 suspects were arrested during the offensive, dubbed "Operation Sinai 2018", which started on Friday in the restive peninsula and other parts of the country, according to a statement posted on his official Facebook page.

Suspicion for that attack fell on an affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) group in Sinai and Mr Sisi authorised troops to use "all brute force" necessary to restore "security and stability" to the region within three months.

In this footage, the spokesperson for the Egyptian Army announced a comprehensive confrontation with criminal terrorist organizations in the Sinai and an operation by the coast guard and border forces to secure ports of entry to Egypt.

It said many foreign countries have their eyes set on Sinai, claiming that terrorists carry out attacks in Sinai with "technological backing from intelligence [services] of countries hostile to Egypt".

"The air force targeted and destroyed 66 targets used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks", for shelter during raids by security forces, he said in a statement.

A total of 16 militants were killed, it added. The Sinai borders Israel and the Gaza Strip and has always been a bastion for Islamic insurgent groups tied to al-Qaida.

Hundreds of police and army personnel were killed since then.

And last September Sissi met Netanyahu for the first time in public, the encounter coming ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in NY.

Egypt denied this, and Israel declined to comment. The group has launched several violent attacks against army and police checkpoints in North Sinai cities. Locals said the mosque was popular among Sufis.

Relations between Egypt and Israel have improved dramatically since the army ousted Islamist Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in July, 2013.

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