The Egyptian army deployed thousands of troops to the Sinai peninsula on Friday, as part of a major operation against Al-Qaeda militants in the area, The Associated Press reported.
Two senior military officials told the news agency that the soldiers, backed by tanks, armored vehicles and commandos, have moved into the northern Sinai city of el-Arish and will target Islamist extremists in Rafah, Sheikh Zawiyed and other areas in central Sinai.
Since the revolution that ended in the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, Al-Qaeda-inspired militants have been increasingly active in the Sinai Peninsula, taking advantage of the security vacuum caused by the abrupt withdrawal of police forces.
Egyptian authorities have blamed the militants for attacks on police patrols as well as on a string of five bombings on the gas pipelines which carry gas to Israel and Jordan.
The most brazen assault, reported AP, involved hundreds of masked militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons storming a police station in the town of el-Arish. Five people were killed in that attack and 28 were wounded.
AP reported that the militants spread pamphlets calling for the imposition of Islamic Sharia law.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s caretaker junta said Thursday it will audit all political parties ahead of the upcoming elections.
The cabinet said it will review the commitment of political parties to the law in order to ensure the integrity of political processes while building democracy.
The move may be aimed at avoiding a rise to power of the extreme Muslim Brotherhood movement and other extremist Islamic Salafist parties which are planning to run in the elections.
The Islamist groups have called for a state governed by Sharia law.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)