Egyptian security forces are pushing ahead with their mop - up operations against militants in Sinai Peninsula, military officials say.
The operations were carried out by army troops, backed by helicopter gunships, in the restive peninsula, including the village of Baghdad in central Sinai, and the Bir al-Abed and Bir Lahfan neighborhoods of the coastal city of el-Arish in northern Sinai, a military official said, on condition of anonymity, on Wednesday. During the operations, several militants were also arrested by the army, the official added. The operations came after two Egyptian soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in northern Sinai on Sunday. On the same day, 16 suspected militants were also detained by the army. 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 September 16, a roadside bomb planted by militants in the peninsula injured at least nine police cadets. According to security sources, the remote-controlled bomb exploded on the outskirts of el-Arish near a bus full of police conscripts. The bus was traveling from the town of Rafah, near the Gaza border, to the coastal city escorted by an armored police car. Since the ouster of former Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, on July 3, militant groups have launched almost daily attacks in Sinai, killing members of the security forces. In response, Cairo has launched offensives against the militants, sending thousands of troops backed by tanks and heavy equipment into the region.