Egypt army targets armed groups, smugglers south of Rafah
Published Friday 27/09/2013 (updated) 28/09/2013 14:47
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) -- The Egyptian army on Thursday launched an intensive military campaign in the northern Sinai Peninsula targeting armed groups in the border area south of Rafah, residents said.
Egyptian security sources told Ma’an that the campaign began at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
Egyptian helicopters bombed stores where they suspected weapons might be held while ground forces launched raids on several houses in search of suspected militants. Egyptian helicopters also bombed 30 sites that they suspected were occupied by armed groups.
The Egyptian army seized 20 underground fuel storage tanks near the Israeli border as part of the raids. Helicopters also bombed other fuel tanks intended to be smuggled to the Gaza Strip through tunnels, according to sources.
Additionally, the army seized a large warehouse allegedly used to store drugs near the Egyptian border with Israel. The warehouse was reported to contain two tons of dried marijuana that was set to be smuggled to Israel.
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. Other armed groups have taken advantage of the relatively lawless situation in the Sinai Peninsula to engage in smuggling and human trafficking.