Egyptian forces kill 17 jihadists in north Sinai

Egyptian police have killed 17 jihadists in a shootout in the restive northern Sinai, the interior ministry said Tuesday.

Security forces are battling a long-running insurgency in the peninsula, spearheaded by the Islamic State group.

The shootout flared as police, acting on intelligence, raided a hideout in North Sinai’s provincial capital of El-Arish, the ministry said in a statement.

They found “terrorist elements” who were planning “hostile operations” and had weapons and explosives, the ministry added.

The date of the raid was not specified.

Egypt has for years been fighting an Islamist insurgency in north Sinai, which escalated following the military’s 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

Scores of policemen and soldiers have been killed in jihadist attacks.

The army said Sunday that seven soldiers were killed or wounded and 10 jihadists killed following an attack on a north Sinai army post.

A local affiliate of the Islamic State group later claimed responsibility.

Earlier this month, the group said it had blown up a gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula that it claimed was connected to Israel.

Security sources, however, said the pipeline was a domestic one.

Egypt launched a nationwide operation against jihadist groups in February 2018, mainly focusing on north Sinai.

Since then, over 840 suspected jihadists have been killed in the region, according to army figures, along with more than 60 security personnel.