Egyptian security forces have arrested a suspected retired American officer as well as 12 others in the restive Sinai Peninsula.
The arrests were made near a police station in Sheikh Zuwaid city,Egypt Independent reported quoting an unnamed security source. Clashes had erupted between Egyptian forces and militants in the area before the arrests were made. The 58-year-old American, carrying documents, data and maps about the restive peninsula, was sent to a police station in el-Arish for interrogation, the source said. A day earlier, several explosions took place near the police station in the city injuring at least four civilians. The Sinai has long been considered a safe haven for militants who use the region as a base for terror activities. In recent months, the remote desert region has been the scene of growing violence and militant attacks on security forces. On August 19, militants ambushed a police convoy in the northern region of Sinai. At least 25 policemen were killed in the attack, which took place close to the town of Rafah on the Gaza border. It was one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in decades. In August 2012, sixteen Egyptian soldiers were killed in an attack on a police station near the border with Gaza. In response, Cairo launched an offensive against terrorists in Sinai, sending thousands of troops backed by tanks and heavy equipment into the region. Since the ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, militant groups have launched almost daily attacks there, killing several members of security forces.