Scene of bus blast in Giza (archive)
Scene of bus blast in Giza (archive)Reuters

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry announced that the local security forces had eliminated two "armed squads" in El-Arish in the Sinai Peninsula, including 16 operatives who held weapons and explosives in their possession, including an explosive belt intended for a suicide bombing.

According to a report in the Al-Ahram newspaper, Egypt's national security forces succeeded in locating the two cells which planned to carry out a series of terrorist attacks against essential facilities and senior figures in the El-Arish area.

The Interior Ministry further reported that on the previous day, security forces had killed 12 armed men in exchanges of fire in the area.

The announcement follows the explosion on a tourist bus near Egypt's famed Giza pyramids on Sunday, in which 17 people were wounded, including South African tourists.

The attack occurred nearly five months after three Vietnamese holidaymakers and their Egyptian guide were killed when a roadside bomb hit their bus as it travelled near the Giza pyramids outside Cairo.

Egypt has been fighting an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula for several years. Most of the attacks in the region during this time period have been claimed by the Sinai Province, the Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate in Egypt.

The country has been under a state of emergency since April of 2018, after two suicide bombings at churches claimed by ISIS killed at least 45 people in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

In February of 2018, Egypt launched operation “Sinai 2018” in an effort to rid the Sinai Peninsula of Islamic terrorists.