May 17, 2018 / 9:45 AM / 5 months ago

Egypt's military kills 19, arrests 20 in Sinai operation

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s military and police forces have killed 19 militants in an exchange of gunfire and arrested 20 suspects, in a continuing crackdown in Sinai, the military said in a statement on Thursday.

Security forces launched a large-scale security operation in February to crush militants who have waged an insurgency that has killed hundreds of security forces and residents over many years.

The statement said the militants were killed over the past few days.

Their deaths bring the total of those killed since the beginning of the operation to at least 296 including 35 military personnel, according to Reuters calculations based on military statements.

Militants in Sinai intensified their attacks after the ousting by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the military in 2013 of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood

Defeating Islamists and restoring security after years of unrest that followed Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising has been a promise of Sisi, who was re-elected in March in a landslide victory against no real opposition.

Reporting by Ahmed Tolba, writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Alison Williams

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