Clashes are ongoing in North Sinai and “terrorist cells are still in the area [Sheikh Zuweid] and they are still threatening the military, but the armed forces have things under control”, Colonel General Mohamed Abdel Moneim, Deputy North Sinai Governor, told Daily News Egypt on Friday.
He added that the “peak in clashes was on 30 June and 1 July, but things have now gone back to their normal state”.
According to military counts, the “State of Sinai”, a group which has proclaimed allegiance to the “Islamic State” (IS) radical militant group, killed 17 official personnel after attacking various checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Unconfirmed reports from news agencies state that the number of dead soldiers is over 60. The military denied those counts, telling state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper that foreign media were distorting death tolls to hinder the country’s “morale”.
Meanwhile, the military has killed at least 70 militants on Thursday and Wednesday and at least 100 militants in clashes on Tuesday, according to Abdel Moneim.
On his official Facebook page, military spokesperson Mohamed Samir posted various photographs of dead bodies accompanied by descriptions that read: “The bodies of the dead despicable terrorists who have been eliminated.”
Abdel Moneim also said that clashes between the military forces and militants are a “regular occurrence” and that the more deadly clashes of the sort that took place earlier in the week “are peaks among the daily routine”.
There are conflicting reports on civilian death tolls. According to Sinai-based reporters and the independent Sinai Now TV, four civilians were killed and 25 more were injured on Thursday in Sheikh Zuweid.
The news outlet also stated that some families have left Sheikh Zuweid to nearby Al-Arish and that electricity and telephone lines were cut for most of the day.
Attacks by the “State of Sinai” militant group against military and police personnel have repeatedly taken place over the past two years since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, with high death tolls on both sides.
The ongoing violence has taken its toll on civilians, who are often caught up in the exchange of fire. The exact number of civilian casualties however remains unclear.