The Egyptian army killed 88 suspected militants in North Sinai over a period of 11 days at the end of July, according to a statement from the army spokesperson Sunday.
Spokesperson Mohamed Samir said that between 20 and 31 July, the death toll’s figure was reported by the army and local citizens, and amounted to “heavy losses” to militants in the region.
The Egyptian army has been facing a large-scale insurgency focussed primarily in the north-east of the Sinai peninsula. On 1 July, a well-coordinated attack from the IS-affiliated State of Sinai insurgent group left 21 security dead according to government figures, other media reports put the figure at around 70 personnel fatalities. Also in July, militants struck an armed forces naval vessel with a rocket in a dramatic attack by the North Sinai coast.
In addition to the 88 deaths, security forces arrested two wanted individuals and 56 suspects, said Samir. The statement comes a day after the army announced the death of a State of Sinai leader called Selim Soliman Al-Haram, during an exchange of fire with security forces. His death came alongside those of ten other militants and seven arrests, as part of a campaign on Friday in the North Sinai towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid.
According to Sunday’s statement, the army also destroyed nine militant ‘meeting places’ and destroyed two warehouses that were being used to store explosive material. The army destroyed dozens of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were prepared for use against government forces and numerous vehicles were also destroyed, including 36 motorcycles.
Militancy has surged since July 2013 across Egypt, with the northern part of the Sinai peninsula being the focus of the main insurgency. On 29 June, Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat was killed by a large car-bomb as he was travelling from his residence in Heliopolis, although it is still unclear who was behind the attack.
A North Sinai resident told Daily News Egypt on Saturday that there had been clashes that morning in east Al-Arish and south of Sheikh Zuweid. The resident added that, due to the worsening telecommunications network, nothing can be confirmed about the numbers of casualties on both sides.
Militant group “State of Sinai” continues to post propaganda photos of alleged members carrying heavy weapons during the exchange of fire with security forces in North Sinai. The clashes are ongoing as the Suez Canal launch approaches, which is scheduled to occur on 6 August.
According to another North Sinai resident, currently intensified security campaigns have set out to secure North Sinai to coincide with the opening of the Canal.