Egypt’s military says it has killed 52 fighters in the Sinai Peninsula over the past few days as part of its ongoing efforts to eliminate armed groups in the sparsely populated desert region.
The army announced in a statement on Sunday that security forces had additionally destroyed 15 vehicles laden with weapons and ammunition while trying to infiltrate its western border and 17 more in the southern military region.
“Over the last few days, the operations have led to … the elimination of 52 extremely dangerous … individuals,” the military said in a statement.
During these operations in North Sinai and the centre of the peninsula, 49 fighters were also arrested in joint raids conducted by the armed forces and the police, the statement added.
The deaths bring to more than 300 the number of fighters killed in the operation that the Egyptian army, backed by police and other security forces, launched in February as part of a campaign to eradicate armed groups responsible for a surge in violence in the desert region.
Armed groups began proliferating after the 2013 military overthrow of the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
Defeating armed groups and restoring security has been a promise of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was re-elected in March in a landslide victory against no real opposition.
Sisi’s critics say his presidency has brought a harsh crackdown on dissent, but supporters say such measures are needed to stabilise Egypt, which was rocked by years of unrest after protests toppled veteran leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.