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Evidence of Egyptian army's destruction campaign in Sinai

Videos on social media reveal harrowing evidence of torture and destruction in Sinai
Locals gather near a damaged car bomb that exploded in El-Arish, Sinai (AFP)

An Egyptian soldier was killed and another injured during clashes with unknown armed men in the restive Sinai Peninsula in recent days, according to local media reports.

Egyptian state TV reported a military operation took place on Sunday in the town of Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai, with eyewitnesses saying fighting began after armed men fired at a patrol of security forces passing through the area.

A statement by a spokesperson for the Egyptian Armed Forces said soldiers had arrested 25 suspected militants and said four vehicles and six houses were destroyed in the operation.

News of the attack follows several attacks in recent weeks on Egyptian army and police officers in the area. 

In an exclusive report, Middle East Eye revealed that Sinai has been the site of a brutal counter-insurgency campaign led by the Egyptian army over the past year, with up to 300 people, mostly civilians, killed.

Videos released on social media have provided evidence the offensive is on-going. 

This video, taken on 8 March by Sinai residents at an Egyptian military campsite near Algawra Airport, shows the discarded bodies of deceased detainees in a water well. The recording claims that the bodies belong to locals who were arrested by the Egyptian army, tortured to death and thrown into the well to rot, hiding any traces of the crime.

The next two videos show the massive destruction of local homes and farms in Rafah claimed to be done at the hands of the Egyptian army.

Reports appearing in Arabic media also illustrate the destruction of homes and the killing of civilians during the Egyptian army's counter-terrorism campaign.

Authorities have said that the campaign is targeting armed groups in the region who threaten national and regional security and have stated that the majority of those targeted are “terrorists”. In press statements made to commemorate Sinai Liberation Day, Major General Mohamed Shahat, who heads operations in North Sinai said that the military plans to send in 25,000 troops to prop up the strong police presence in the area, with the deployment expected ahead of the country's presidential election on 26 and 27 May. 

Videos and other reports from the peninsula reveal that Egyptian army use of Apache helicopters, heavy artillery and rocket launchers in operations that have seen the destruction of whole nomad villages. Reports coming out of the region also include evidence of hundreds of unarmed civilians being detained and enforced blackouts causing the cutting of mobile phone networks, landlines and Internet networks for up to 14 hours a day.