Alwaght- Fresh clashes in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula have killed 2 government troops and 16 Takfiri terrorists, a military spokesman has said.
The spokesman, Col. Tamer Rifai, did not explain how the troops were killed, but said security forces have killed 11 militants in the past four days.
He said a suicide attack against army forces had been thwarted, without elaborating.
The spokesman said 641 "criminal elements" were detained as well as 419 foreigners while trying to infiltrate across the border.
Tuesday's death toll brings to 18 troops and 82 terrorists killed since the operation began on Feb. 9 against militants blamed for a string of attacks across the country. More than 2,900 people have also been detained.
In a press conference on Thursday, El-Refai said that 105 Takfiris and 16 army personnel have been killed since the anti-terrorism operation started on 9 February.
The Arabic word "Takfiri" refers to extremist Muslims, mostly Wahhabi, who accuse other Muslims of being infidels, often as a justification for using violence against them.
The military spokesman said two underground tunnels between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip and 375 “terrorist” hideouts have been destroyed.
The Sinai operation comes amid preparations to hold the country's presidential election in March, in which incumbent President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi seeks re-election.
Egypt has for years been battling a Wahhabi-Takfiri insurgency based in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula that mainly targets security forces. The army said it has killed hundreds of militants in military operations there.
Over the past few years, terrorists have been carrying out anti-government activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt that erupted after the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup in July 2013.
The Wilayat Sinai group, which is affiliated with the ISIS Takfiri terrorists, has claimed responsibility for most of the assaults.