By Charlie Miller and Joel Gulhane
In a statement released on Saturday evening, Colonel Ahmed Ali, spokesman for the armed forces said the military had “monitored and dealt with” the militant group suspected of killing 16 Egyptian soldiers in August 2012, and for kidnapping 7 soldiers in May.
The statement added that the “terrorist group” were planning to commit crimes against members of the armed forces, police and the “honourable people of North Sinai.”
The armed forces confirmed that it carried out a strike “against a terrorist group who contaminated their hands with the blood of our martyrs from the military and civilian police forces in northern Sinai.”
The strike occurred at exactly 9pm on Saturday and resulted in the death or injury of approximately 25 “members of the terrorist element,” reported the armed forces. The strike also hit a weapons and ammunition store.
The operation occurred in “the village of Al-Toma in Sheikh Zuwaid city.” State run Al-Ahram, citing a military source announced on Saturday evening that the armed forces carried out the strike using Apache helicopters.
This latest operation comes just a day after four suspected militants were killed in unclear circumstances close to the border town of Rafah. Funerals for the four killed were held on Saturday.
There are conflicting reports as to the nature of the explosion, with eyewitnesses saying they saw “an Israeli aircraft” at the time of the blast. Beit Al-Maqdis, a militant group with Al-Qaeda affiliations claimed that four of their members had been killed in the explosion, which the group attributed to an “Israeli drone strike.”
The armed forces released a statement on Friday denying Israeli involvement in the incident, adding that military investigators were at the scene to determine the series of events.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have neither confirmed nor denied their involvement in Friday’s events.
Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, stated in Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post: “We will not allow rumours and speculations, as they have developed in the past 24 hours, to harm the peace agreement [between Egypt and Israel].”
Ya’alon also reportedly released a statement stressing that Israel “respects Egypt’s full sovereignty” following accusations of Israeli involvement in the explosion.