The armed forces arrested five people in North Sinai raids this week, including one man described by a military spokesman as an “extremely dangerous terrorist.”
A statement posted on the official page of Armed Forces Spokesman Mohamed Samir Monday, said four wanted individuals from Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah were arrested Saturday. The fifth arrest, the reported terrorist, was made on Sunday.
The statement said that over a dozen “terrorists” were killed in a gunfire exchange with security forces on Sunday and several unlicensed cars used in “terrorist operations”. The armed forces also destroyed a unit used to create Improvised Explosive Devices.
A total of five tunnel openings in Rafah city were destroyed on the two days, the statement said. Tunnels built beneath Rafah, connecting Egypt to Gaza, are used for the movement of both goods and people. Despite being illegal, these tunnels are vital for citizens of the besieged Gaza strip. Egypt’s intensified crackdown on the tunneling activity has left over 1,700 tunnels destroyed.
On 17 August, Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi stressed that “there is no compromising” with border security. Sobhi said “securing Egypt’s borders and protecting its national security is a sacred mission”, adding that the military is working with “utmost vigilance”.
The military raids come after state media reported last week that 30 people suspected of partaking in terrorist activities were arrested, as part of ongoing security efforts to tackle militant activity in the Sinai Peninsula.
The ouster of former president and Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohamed Morsi was followed by a surge in attacks and bombings targeting security forces, whether police or military. Attacks at first were centred in Sinai, but eventually spread to other parts of the country, reaching Mansoura in December and Cairo in January with two deadly attacks on security buildings.
A factsheet prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs places the death toll for terrorist activities since January 2011 to 23 April at 971, including 477 policemen and 187 army personnel.