Sisi visits troops in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula

Wearing his old uniform, Sisi visited his troops in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, scene of deadly fighting earlier this week

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President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited his troops in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, scene of deadly fighting earlier this week, Al Arabiya News Channel reported Saturday.

"President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is inspecting troops and police in the North Sinai," his office said without specifying where in the restive province.

"I have come to salute the heroes of the armed forces and to express to them my recognition," he was quoted by the army's spokesman as saying.

State television broadcast footage of Sisi, dressed in military fatigues, touring an army base and inspecting captured weapons.

Egypt also launched air strikes in North Sinai on Saturday, killing 25 militants, security sources told Reuters.

The air strikes hit militant targets near Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai province and destroyed weapons and explosives caches.

The sources also said that border security forces had found about half a tonne of explosives in a tunnel on the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Militants of the Sinai Province group -- a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group (ISIS) -- launched their biggest assault in years against Egyptian security forces on Wednesday. Dozens of people have been killed in the past few days of clashes.

Also on Saturday, a woman and two children were killed after a shell slammed into a house in North Sinai, medical and security sources told Agence France-Presse.

It was not immediately clear which side fired the shell in the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid.

A woman and a teenage girl were also seriously wounded, the sources said.

The government called in air strikes on Wednesday after a spectacular ISIS attack in Sheikh Zuweid.

The army said 17 soldiers and 100 militants had been killed. But medical and security officials said the death toll was at least 70 people -- mostly soldiers -- as well as dozens of militants.

The violence poses a major test for Sisi, the former army chief who has pledged to eliminate the militants.

(with AFP)