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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Egypt airstrikes kill 23 militants

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The Egyptian military has killed 23 extremists in dawn raids in northern Sinai, security officials said.

The strikes come a day after Islamic militants attacked army positions in the restive peninsula and set off the bloodiest fighting in decades.

The raids took place just south of the border town of Rafah, a key Sinai border town near the Gaza Strip, said the officials.

They said the army was also seeking out militants house to house in the town of Sheikh Zuweid – where the militants attacked at least five army checkpoints the previous day – and de-mining roads in and around the area that extremists had booby trapped with mines and improvised explosives devices.

Also on Thursday, a newspaper close to the Egyptian government said the Islamic State-linked militants who attacked troops on Wednesday in Sinai used sophisticated weaponry, including Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles.

In a graphic on its front page, el-Watan daily said the attackers also used mortars, anti-aircraft guns and other guided missiles.

The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group’s local franchise, included a wave of suicide bombings and assaults on security installations by dozens of militants. It was Sinai’s deadliest wave of attacks in decades.

The army said 17 troops and 90 militants were killed, but security officials and media reports said dozens of soldiers and some 100 militants died in the fighting.

Newspapers led their front pages with the attack, with many describing it as a “war.” Graphic photographs released by the military showed the bodies of extremists killed in the fighting who were wearing desert combat fatigues and ammunition pouches.

Wednesday’s assault, focused on Sheikh Zuweid and unprecedented in its coordination and tactics, followed the assassination of Egypt’s chief prosecutor and a vow by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to step up the legal battle against Islamic militants.

Late on Wednesday, a resident of Sheikh Zuweid speaking in Cairo said many civilians in the town were trapped by the fighting and military siege, with no water or electricity.

He said many residents are trying to flee to el-Arish, the area’s largest city.

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