Skip to main content

Egyptian army kills 16 militants in Sinai, reports

The attack follows on from brutal beheading video posted by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis
An Egyptian soldier inspects a car bomb blast (AFP)

Egyptian military officials have said that army troops killed 16 members of an al-Qaida-inspired militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, also known as Ansar Jerusalem or Supporters of Jerusalem.

Officials said that four group leaders were also arrested in the large scale security operation that was still underway early on Tuesday.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis was behind the beheading of three alleged Mosul spies and the killing of one alleged army infiltrator, with the group posting the video of the executions online yesterday.

The army assault on the group was carried out against militant hideouts in three villages south of the town of Sheikh Zuweyid and in the Mahdiya village near Rafah, on the border with Gaza, the official who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

The restive Sinai Peninsula has seen security deteriorate sharply since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and has only further slipped into chaos since the oust of Mubarak’s successor Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first Muslim Brotherhood President, in 2013.

On Monday, a roadside bomb killed a 13-year-old boy in northern Sinai, where Egyptian security forces frequently clash with militants, security officials said.

The blast occurred in the town of Sheikh Zuweid when the boy found the device, which had been planted on a road apparently to target security patrols, the officials said.

MEE contributor Moahmmed Omer, who has recently returned from the Sinai, explains that the tightening security situation has wreaked havoc on Sinai civilians who have found themselves trapped between the militants and the army. 

New President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who was elected president in a highly controversial election in May, has made restoring order to the Sinai a key pledge.