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Egyptian forces kill 15 suspected militants in restive north Sinai

Security forces killed the militants in a shootout, according to the Egyptian interior ministry [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 September, 2019

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Egyptian security forces have killed 15 suspected militants in northern Sinai according to a statement by the interior ministry, amid continued instability in the country.
Egyptian security forces have killed 15 suspected militants in a shootout in northern Sinai, the interior ministry said on  Sunday.

A militant group was "planning hostile acts targeting military and police forces...in order to destabilise national security", the ministry said in a statement.

It did not name a specific group, but said "terrorist elements" had been hiding in a farm in El-Arish, the capital of North Sinai province.

When forces approached, "the militants shot live rounds forcing troops to deal with them (and) leading to 15 deaths".

Graphic pictures of the bodies of the alleged militants were sent along with the Sunday press release.

Authorities also said they found a small trove of stashed weapons including an explosive belt, several rifles and an explosive device.

Read more: Chaos by design – How a violent and lawless Sinai benefits Sisi

The ministry did not specify when the reported shootout took place, but Sunday's announcement follows recent military operations in Sinai that authorities say killed 118 suspected militants.

Nine soldiers were killed and one wounded in those "counter-terrorism" operations, a military statement said on Friday.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi paid tribute to the dead personnel in a series of tweets late Friday, describing "terrorism" as a "cancer still trying to kidnap the nation".

The shootout took place amid corruption allegations against Sisi, which have been called “Palacegate”. More than 2,000 people have recently been arrested after protests took place in response to videos released by construction contractor Mohamed Ali.

In the videos, Ali alleged that Sisi used public funds to build luxurious palaces for himself at a time when the poverty rate in Egypt was increasing. The autocratic president confirmed that he was building palaces but said they were for the Egyptian state, rather than himself.

In February 2018, Egypt's military launched a nationwide offensive against Islamist militants, focused mainly on North Sinai, where the Islamic State group still has a significant presence.

Some 665 suspected Islamist extremists and around 60 soldiers have been killed since, according to official figures.

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