Egypt launches military campaign south of Rafah
Published Thursday 26/09/2013 (updated) 28/09/2013 12:30
An Egyptian soldier keeps guard as smoke rises in
the Egyptian city of Rafah, near the border with the
Gaza Strip on Sept. 1, 2013. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) -- The Egyptian army on Thursday launched an intensive military campaign targeting strongholds of armed groups in the border village of Nag Shabana south of Rafah, residents said.
Witnesses said that Egyptian helicopters bombed targets and stores where they suspected weapons might be held while ground forces launched raids on several houses in search of suspected militants.
Sources in the Egyptian military said that the army and police detained two suspected members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Bir al-Abed. The suspects are accused of raiding and stealing weapons from the Bir al-Abed Police station following the Egyptian military's crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since Aug. 14.
Egyptian police also detained 32 suspects in the raids for security issues, including convicted fugitives. The police also detained a drug-dealer, and seized property that had been stolen from al-Matafi police in el-Arish.
Hundreds of people have been killed and more than 2,000 arrested across Egypt in the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since Aug. 14, when police forcibly dispersed two protest camps in Cairo's Rabia al-Adawiya Square. The protest camps had been set up in opposition to the Aug. 3 coup by the Egyptian military, which overthrew democratically elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his leadership.
In the months since, the Egyptian military has stepped up a campaign against militant groups operating out of the Sinai Peninsula, while armed groups loyal to Morsi have responded violently against the military crackdown. The army has killed around 100 Islamists in the area over the past two months, while militants have killed 58 policemen, 21 soldiers and 17 civilians there, according to a recent AFP tally.