16 killed in Egyptian military operations across north Sinai
Published Thursday 20/02/2014 (updated) 22/02/2014 10:08
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egyptian military forces killed 10 suspected gunmen in helicopter airstrikes on alleged militant strongholds in the North Sinai on Wednesday.
Egyptian military sources told Ma'an that several air strikes took place in al-Muqataa village south of the city of Sheikh Zuweid and that 10 "radical" militants were killed.
The sources added that they believed that high profile leaders of the al-Qaeda-inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis organization were killed in the attacks.
Egyptian troops also stormed the villages of al-Fayyat and al-Touma south of Sheikh Zuweid killing six alleged gunmen and detaining 10 others.
Ten houses used by "fundamentalists" were destroyed, according to the military sources, as well as three smuggling tunnels under Egypt's borders with Gaza Strip.
The Wahhabi militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has been responsible for a string of attacks across Egypt which have targeted both security and civilian targets since the military ousted democratically-elected President Morsi.
On Sunday, the group struck tourist targets for the first time, bombing a bus near the Israeli border and killing four.
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party has repeatedly denounced the violence, but the Egyptian military has declared the party a "terrorist" organization and has severely cracked down on its members.
More than 1,000 protesters have been killed in the crackdown, which has targeted weekly protests in cities across Egypt.