Egyptian army kills 63 militants in Sinai

Gunmen also wound four military recruits in Egypt’s border town Rafah

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Egypt’s military launched air strikes and ground operations that killed 63 Islamist militants in North Sinai on Sunday, security sources said, as the country grapples with an increasingly ambitious insurgency based in the

Security sources said on Sunday troops killed the 63 militants in villages between the towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah.

The army found four militant hideouts and attacked them with Apache helicopters and ground troops.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group’s Egypt affiliate, recently renamed Sinai Province, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police since Mursi’s removal.

Though the vast peninsula has long been a security headache for Egypt and its neighbors, the removal of Mursi brought new violence that has grown into an Islamist insurgency that has spread out of the region.

On Monday, a car bomb in Cairo killed Egypt’s top prosecutor, the highest-profile official to die since the insurgency began.

Egyptian government officials have accused Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood of links to Sinai attacks. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful movement that wants to reverse what it calls a military coup through street protests.

Egypt’s interior ministry said on Sunday it had arrested 12 Brotherhood members who had formed three cells with the intention of carrying out attacks on policemen, soldiers and military and police bases.

Also on Sunday, the prosecutors referred to trial 22 people charged with planting bombs near targets including the high court and cabinet buildings, state news agency MENA reported.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has also expressed concern about militants based in neighboring Libya, where Egypt has launched air strikes on ISIS targets.

Gunmen wound four military recruits

Four military recruits were severely injured after unknown gunmen hit a security camp with a mortar shell in the Egyptian border town of Rafah, Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent reported on Sunday, citing security sources.

The wounded recruits were transferred to a hospital in Al-Erish, capital and largest city of the restive governorate of North Sinai.

Rafah, which borders the Gaza Strip, is around 50 kilometers away from Arish.

The security sources also said that they destroyed an underground tunnel in a house located in Taweel al-Ameer, a district in Rafah.

They said the owner of the house was arrested to face trial.

Militants in the northern Sinai have long battled security forces, but they stepped up their attacks after Islamist President Mohammad Mursi was ousted from power in July 2013.

(With Reuters)