Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Egypt launches major anti-jihadist operation

Egypt launches major anti-jihadist operation

Police and security forces have frequently been the target of deadly attacks staged by insurgents in the area.

According to the statement, the police also announced the highest state of alert to implement the operation as part of efforts for rooting out terrorist elements.

"In the framework of the interior ministry's efforts to abort the plans of terrorist the Muslim Brotherhood - which aims to compromise the country's security and undermine its capabilities - the national security department has monitored the issuance of a mandate from the fugitive terrorist group leaders overseas to its elements who are members of Hasm, one of the armed wings of the Brotherhood", the interior ministry said.

The military has boosted its operations on the border with Libya and repeatedly expressed concern about militants crossing from the chaos-wracked country to launch attacks.

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The army spokesman said the operation covers areas in Sinai, the Delta and the Western Desert and it follows a three-month deadline set by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to crush a years-long Islamist insurgency. "The armed forces calls upon the Egyptian people in all parts of the country to closely cooperate with law enforcement forces to confront terrorism, uproot it and immediately report any elements threatening the security and stability of the country", the spokesman, Colonel Tamer al-Rifai, said in a televised address.

Egypt has for years been battling an armed anti-government campaign in the rugged and thinly populated Sinai Peninsula, which has gained pace since the military overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-2013.

Troubled North Sinai has been subject to many attacks targeting Coptic Christians, security forces in checkpoints and Sufi Muslims during Friday prayers.

In November 2017, 235 people were killed in a bomb and gun attack on a mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed.

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In 2014, Sinai's indigenous terrorists pledged their allegiance to ISIL terrorist group. The offensive takes place less than three months after gunmen killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque in North Sinai.

The comprehensive anti-terror operation comes weeks before Egypt starts its 2018 presidential elections, where incumbent President Sisi is expected to make an easy win for a second term due to the lack of strong challengers in the race.

Security forces have been increasingly targeted by attacks in the region, though some attacks have reached Cairo.

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