Egypt: Anti-IS operation kills 16 jihadists

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Egypt: Anti-IS operation kills 16 jihadists

Sixteen militants have been killed and 34 people arrested in a major security operation, Egypt's military said on Sunday, part of a campaign to crush Islamist insurgents blamed for a string of attacks.

The operation was started on Friday in response to a pickup in extremist violence in Egypt.

It also discovered and destroyed an explosives-making laboratory and a communications centre, as well as six cannabis and opium fields, he said. The Sinai borders Israel and the Gaza Strip and has always been a bastion for Islamic insurgent groups tied to al-Qaida.

Egypt denied this, and Israel declined to comment.

And last September Sissi met Netanyahu for the first time in public, the encounter coming ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in NY. A military spokesman said that the operation would cover large parts of Sinai, Nile Delta and the Western Desert and borders with Libya. They are blamed for a series of bomb, gun and suicide attacks that have killed hundreds in Egypt.

Formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the group first appeared in September 2011 and rebranded itself with an IS pledge of allegiance in November 2014.

In a Facebook posting on his account, Sisi wrote: "I follow with pride the heroic actions of my sons in the armed forces and police to clear Egypt's territory of terrorist elements".

The military said its warplanes struck "terrorist concentrations and hideouts" in northern and central Sinai through the night and into the early hours of Saturday, targeting weapons warehouses and logistics support areas.

In addition to its attacks on Christians, IS has adopted a threatening tone against Sufi Muslims, whom it considers to be heretics. IS has beheaded a number of Sufi men whom it accused of "sorcery".

In November a year ago, militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque in the Sinai Peninsula and then sprayed gunfire on panicked worshippers as they fled, killing at least 305 people and wounding at least 128 others. Locals said the mosque was popular among Sufis.

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