The Egyptian Armed Forces launched on Sunday afternoon a wide-reaching security operation targeting the perpetrators of the Zagdan checkpoint attack and other Islamic State (IS)-affiliated militants in North Sinai, according to an official statement issued on the army spokesperson’s Facebook page.
According to the spokesperson, the first day of the operation left 18 militants and three army personnel dead, and two other personnel injured.
This comes after a deadly attack in Bir El-Abd, Al-Arish city, on Friday that left 12 army conscripts killed and six other personnel injured.
Following Friday’s attack, the army pledged retaliation for the blood of the killed conscripts and airstrikes were quickly launched against “Sinai Province”. According to the armed forces, the targets and locations of the airstrikes were based on intelligence and other information provided by Bedouin residents in the peninsula. The recently launched security operation is an extension of these intensive airstrikes.
The spokesperson’s statement read: “Air Forces carried out several airstrikes Sunday at dawn against militant locales according to information provided by security apparatuses. The strikes were conducted in concurrence with a ground operation. This combined attack left 18 militants dead and three army personnel martyred, in addition to the injury of two other personnel.”
The military ground operation is ongoing with the help of special forces in the police and army. Security sweeps are being conducted in a number of villages and cities in North Sinai and the surrounding desert areas.
“The armed forces have pushed reinforcements from the second and third field armies to participate in the security sweep. Several security measures were undertaken to guarantee that innocent people are not harmed,” the statement added.
On Sunday, “Sinai Province” declared responsibility for the attack on Zagdan checkpoint and published photos of militants firing at conscripts stationed at the checkpoint. One of the photos shows a conscript lying on the ground after being struck by heavy gunfire.
The photos show that Zagdan checkpoint, located in an empty desert area south of Bir El-Abd, was insufficiently fortified. Another photo shows a tank being struck by a missile, allegedly from the same attack.
These photos were released after the army spokesperson affirmed that the forces stationed at the checkpoint succeeded in killing 15 of the militant attackers during the attack itself.