Egypt's military said it killed 18 suspected Islamists in aerial and ground operations in the restive North Sinai region on Tuesday, as part of its battle to quell a long-running insurgency, AFP reports.
The army said in a statement that its forces succeeded in foiling "an attack by takfiri terrorist elements on one of the security complexes" in the town of Bir al-Abd.
Egyptian security officials use the term "takfiri" to designate extremist Islamist terrorists.
"In cooperation with the air force, security forces managed to chase the takfiri elements across a farm and in abandoned houses killing 18, including one wearing an explosive belt," the statement said.
Two military personnel were killed and four others wounded in Tuesday's operations in Bir al-Abd. Troops also destroyed four cars including three that were packed with explosives.
The town, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of North Sinai's capital al-Arish, has been the site of several terror attacks claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) group including the deadliest attack in modern Egyptian history, in which more than 300 worshippers were gunned down in a mosque in 2017.
Egypt has been fighting an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula for several years, which at times has spilled over into other parts of the country. Most of the attacks during this time period have been claimed by the Sinai Province, the 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.
Tuesday’s statement came after videos surfaced on social media purportedly showing plumes of smoke, gunfire and residents screaming for their lives.
AFP could not verify the authenticity of the short clips posted online.