Since 2013, state security forces, represented by both the military and the police, have been engaged in violent clashes with “Sinai Province”, known previously as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. In 2014, the group declared its affiliation with the Islamic State group (IS) and has repeatedly launched deadly attacks on army and police checkpoints.
Over the course of the last four years, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched counter-attacks against militants across the Sinai Peninsula, where the group is based, particularly in the cities of Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, and Al-Arish. With the ongoing large-scale operation Sinai 2018, Daily News Egypt recollects the main incidents that took place in 2017 and 2018.
1 January: Borders security forces from the Second Field Army based in North Sinai managed to discover 12 tunnels located along the border in North Sinai. They were believed to be used by weapons and drugs smugglers.
9 January: Eight policemen and one civilian were killed in two separate militant attacks targeting checkpoints in the North Sinai city of Al-Arish.
15 January: The Interior Ministry announced that it killed a leading figure of IS-affiliated group “Sinai Province” in a mutual shoot-out, named Hamadan Soliman Salem.
23 January: Five police conscripts were killed in central Sinai when militants opened fire against them. The incident took place when militants stopped a minibus carrying the conscripts and killed them.
24 January: The Israeli counter-terrorism authority warned travellers from going to the Sinai Peninsula on the anniversary of the 25 January revolution. The warning message was issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, the Israeli prime minister’s official spokesperson Ofir Gendelman said on his Facebook page at the time.
6 February: Army forces affiliated with the Third Field Army announced the killing of 14 militants and arrest of a further 10 in an operation.
16-20 February: Seven Copts were killed in Al-Arish, five of whom were shot and two were burned to death. In the latter incident, the corpses of two Coptic citizens were found thrown behind a state-run language school.
25 February: Al-Arish witnessed an outflow of Coptic families deciding to flee their residences to seek refuge in the governorate of Ismailia. This exodus followed an escalation of murders targeting Copts by militants believed to be members of the IS-affiliated group “Sinai Province”.
5 March: Forces affiliated with the Third Field Army managed to arrest 12 militants in central Sinai.
7 March: Forces affiliated with the Third Field Army managed to kill seven militants in a large-scale operation conducted in central Sinai. Three other militants were injured in the operation.
19 March: The air force managed to kill 18 militants in several airstrikes in the cities of Al-Arish, Rafah, and Sheikh Zuweid.
26 March: Armed forces affiliated with the Second Field Army managed to kill five militants, including a leading figure of “Sinai Province.”
19 April: A militant attack on a checkpoint near Saint Catherine road in South Sinai left one lower ranking police officer dead and three other security personnel injured.
27 April: An Islamic State group-affiliated suicide bomber killed four members of a Bedouin tribe and wounded others in Rafah.
1 May: Two militants were killed in a military raid in North Sinai
8 May: The military spokesperson announced that forces from the Second Field Army arrested 22 suspects in North Sinai and destroyed tunnels suspected of being used by militants.
15 May: An Egyptian lieutenant colonel was killed and three soldiers were injured in an explosion that targeted their armoured personnel carrier (APC) in North Sinai.
16 May: In a new development of the situation in Sinai, Al-Sawarka tribe announced its participation in the fight against “Sinai Province”, according to a statement issued by Al-Sawarka. The tribe Al-Tarabin announced that eight alleged militants were killed in clashes with its members, while two tribesmen were injured.
20 May: Two civilians were abducted and beheaded in Rafah and Al-Arish, a security source said. In another incident, seven gunmen were killed by army shelling in southern Rafah.
13 June: Two alleged militants along with two suspected militant supporters were arrested in a military raid in North Sinai.
20 June: Egypt’s air force targeted militant leaders allegedly belonging to “Sinai Province” in North Sinai, killing 12 members and destroying four vehicles.
7 July: A deadly attack claimed the lives of 25 military personnel in an army outpost in the village of Al-Burth, near the border village of Rafah in North Sinai. The military said clashes between army forces and militants at several outposts in southern Rafah killed around 40 militants and destroyed six cars that were used in the attack.
16 July: The military spokesperson announced that three militants were killed during clashes with the Third Field Army in Central Sinai.
17 July: Curfew hours imposed by the state in North Sinai were extended until the end of the state of emergency that was previously declared. The curfew began at 7:00 pm and ended at 6: 00 am the next morning, except in Al-Arish and the International Road, where it began at 1:00 am and ended at 5:00 am.
18 July: Four soldiers were killed in Al-Arish in North Sinai after being targeted by an improvised explosive device (IED) and gunfire that hit their convoy, according to state media.
19 July: Five cars, two hideouts, and one boat were destroyed in a campaign by army forces in North Sinai.
25 July: A military spokesperson announced that seven civilians were killed in an attack on a checkpoint in Al-Arish city as a car approached security forces guarding the area.
26 July: The military announced that its forces were intensifying operations in the fourth phase of the “Martyr’s Right” operation, resulting in the killing of 40 militants and the arrest of five others, as well as the destruction of 30 different vehicles.
9 August: Four policemen were killed in an ambush on a private car near the city of Bir al-Abed in North Sinai, after the military announced the killing of five militants in central Sinai, according to tribal sources.
13 August: Police forces declared the detention of 41 individuals in different security campaigns. Most of them were suspects, while 41 of them were fugitives involved in different misdemeanours, according to the Ministry of Interior.
20 August: The armed forces said it arrested three alleged militants amid ongoing military operations fighting terrorism in the region.
22 August: A policeman and two conscripts were shot by unknown assailants in the city of Al-Arish, according to local media.
26 August: Six alleged militants were killed and four others injured in a military operation by the Third Field Army in North Sinai.
29 August: The military spokesperson said that the military killed seven militants including two “leading members of terrorist groups,” in North Sinai.
25 September: The army said that it killed six militants in North Sinai and arrested 31 others.
11 October: A solider was killed while foiling an attack on a checkpoint guarding a cement factory in central Sinai, state media reported.
16 October: North Sinai witnessed violent clashes between militants and security personnel in Al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid in separate attacks, leading to nine security and civilian casualties and injuries, security officials said. At least five people were killed in a staged militant heist on the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) branch in Al-Arish.
24 October: Six alleged militants were killed in a military operation in North Sinai.
11 November: Some videos and local reports asserted that around eight truck drivers working with factories affiliated with the armed forces were stopped and killed by militants suspected of belonging to the “Sinai Province” militant group.
24 November: An attack targetting Al-Rawda mosque in Bir al-Abed after the Friday prayers killed 350 people and injured hundreds of others.
28 November: Six people were arrested in North Sinai, showing they planned hostile attacks against vital institutions and Christian places of worship. Also, 11 militants died during a security raid on a farm in of Ismailia as they engaged in armed clashes with the police. Three more people were arrested on accusations of smuggling supplies to terrorist groups in North Sinai.
29 November: President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ordered his new Chief of Staff General Mohammed Farid Hegazi to use all force necessary to secure the Sinai Peninsula within the following three months
20 December: Al-Arish International Airport was targeted with a rocket missile, killing one officer, injuring two others, and causing “partial damage to one helicopter,” during the field visit of Egypt’s defence and interior ministers.
16 January: The Egyptian Armed Forces said that its forces arrested three alleged militants.
5 February: A suspected militant in North Sinai was killed and six others were arrested.
10 February: The Egyptian Armed Forces announced that it launched an extensive military operation dubbed Sinai 2018 in North Sinai to eliminate militants from the restive peninsula. Up until 12 February, 28 militants were killed in the campaign, the military said.