Egyptian army 'kills 16 militants' in Sinai operation

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Egypt's armed forces on Sunday announced that 16 alleged militants had been killed as part of a new security offensive in the northern and central Sinai Peninsula.

Four militants and 30 suspects were arrested, it adds.

In November, Sisi ordered his armed forces chief of staff to restore security in Sinai within three months after militants killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque.

The operation launched on Friday involves troops from the Egyptian air force, navy and ground forces as well as the police and border guards.

It also discovered and destroyed an explosives-making laboratory and a communications centre, as well as six cannabis and opium fields, he said.

Egypt denied this, and Israel declined to comment.

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

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A military spokesman earlier said that "Operation Sinai 2018" 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 from neighbouring Libya.

North Sinai has witnessed many terrorists attacks since the January 2011 revolution.

The Salafi Call, the parent organisation of Egypt's Salafist Nour Party, said terrorism in Egypt has become more risky than at any previous time and the threat is increasing.

Tamer al-Refaei was quoted by Efe on Friday saying that the Egyptian army was intensifying its war in northern Sinai, which it had been fighting since 2014 against terror organisations including a subsidiary of the Islamic State, and over which the authorities have imposed a total media blackout.

IS started to scale up its attacks in Sinai from September 2017 onwards, as it started losing territory in Iraq and Syria.

The head of the IS religious police in Sinai had previously said that Sufis who did not "repent" would be killed.