The Egyptian Armed Forces said on Tuesday that its forces arrested three alleged extremists amid the ongoing military operations fighting terrorism in the region, military spokesperson Tamer Al-Refaei said in a statement.
According to the statement, military forces of the Third Field Army attacked a den of extremists, destroying two vehicles and eight motor bikes.
Since 2013, state security forces, represented by both the army and the police, have been engaged in violent clashes with “Sinai Province”, a group previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. In 2014, the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS) and has frequently launched deadly attacks on army and police checkpoints.
Over the lpast two years, the armed forces have launched counter-attacks against militants’ gathering points across the Sinai Peninsula, where the group is mainly based in the cities of Sheikh Zuwayed, Rafah, and Al-Arish.
A state of emergency in North Sinai was first declared in 2013 by then-interim president Adly Mansour, who came into power following the ouster of Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi. The state of emergency has been extended following last year’s extremist attacks on Coptic churches during Palm Sunday.
According to the military statement, the suspects were monitoring the activity of military forces. Third Field Army troops attacked the den of extremists and dismantled an improvised explosive device (IED).
Meanwhile, across the border from the peninsula, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his country’s strategy to destroy tunnels used to launch attacks on Israeli soil from the Gaza Strip. Last Sunday, the Israeli Defence Forces said it has destroyed a cross-border tunnel dug by Hamas to stage attacks in Israel.
Although many of the tunnels leading from Gaza into Egypt and Israel are used to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip—which is under a blockade by Israel—Palestinian militant groups have also used them for attacks on Israeli territories, most notably during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.
Tensions have been notably high between Palestinian authorities and Israel since US President Donald Trump took the decision to unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in November.
The move was criticised by the international community as undermining the peace process aimed at implementing a political solution to the decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.