Egyptian policemen driving on a road leading to the North Sinai provincial capital of El-Arish (AFP)

Egyptian troops and security forces have killed at least 52 suspected fighters in recent days, the army has said, as authorities push ahead with an operation to eradicate Islamic State.

The deaths brings to more than 300 the number of suspected fighters killed in the operation that the army, backed by police and other security forces, launched in February as part of a campaign to eradicate armed groups behind a wave of violence in the desert region.

A statement issued by the defence ministry on Sunday said that troops and security forces had also destroyed 15 vehicles laden with weapons and ammunitions while trying to infiltrate the western border, and 17 more in the southern military region.

The statement said that 13 "extremely dangerous takfiris" were killed in an operation by security forces in the city of El-Arish, the capital of North Sinai province. Egypt uses the term takfiri to refer to fighters who often accuse other Muslims of being non-Muslims.

The remaining 39 fighters were killed in various military operations across northern and central Sinai, the military statement said, without giving any breakdown.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ordered February's operation after an attack on a mosque last November in which hundreds of worshippers died.

The deaths have raised to at least 313 suspected fighters, according to a Reuters news agency count based on military statements.

At least 35 military personnel have also been killed since February, according to the same count.

Defeating armed groups and restoring security after years of unrest has been a promise of Sisi, who was re-elected in March in a landslide victory against no real opposition.

Sisi's critics say his presidency has brought a harsh crackdown on dissent, but supporters say such measures are needed to stabilise Egypt.

Sisi toppled the democratically elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Original Article


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