Egypt arrests 200 Sinai terrorists in two days

Security forces announce they have destroyed 85% of the peninsula’s smuggling tunnels as well as 30 fuel pumps.

Egyptian military vehicles in the northern Sinai following a July 4, 2013, attack by Islamist gunmen.

Egyptian military vehicles in the northern Sinai following a July 4, 2013, attack by Islamist gunmen.

The Times of Israel (August 26) — Egyptian security forces have arrested over 200 terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula since the beginning of the week, the London-based daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported Monday.

The paper cited military and security officials who said that 85 percent of the smuggling tunnels in Sinai and 30 fuel pumps had been destroyed. Of the 203 people arrested in the preceding 48 hours, approximately 150 were Egyptian citizens, the report said.

After the military overthrow of president Mohammed Morsi in early July, the Egyptian army stepped up its clampdown on the Sinai in an attempt to stem the influx of foreign fighters into the peninsula. Sinai had long been considered a haven for jihadi fighters who used it as a base for terror activity against Egypt and Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood has denied playing a part in the escalating violence since Morsi was ousted, but one of the group’s leaders was quoted by the Russian outlet RIA Novosti as saying that insurgent attacks would end as soon as “the legitimate president” is freed from detention.

According to Egyptian intelligence, there were at least 500 armed extremists operating in the peninsula at the end of July, Al Ahram reported.

Violence in the Sinai has been spilling over into Israel in recent years. On August 9, Israel briefly shut down the main airport in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, which sits close to the Egyptian border, out of fear of an attack from the Sinai. A rocket attack the following week was aimed at the city, but the projectile was intercepted by an Iron Dome battery.

According to Egyptian security, the bulk of Sinai terror activity has been based in El-Arish, Sheikh Zweid and southern Rafah.

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