ahram.org/ Egyptian military says it will intensify offensive against terrorism

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SHAFAQNA- The Egyptian army said on Friday that militant attacks won’t deter the armed forces from their “holy duty of uprooting terrorism,” one day after coordinated attacks in North Sinai left at least 30 dead.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) convened on Friday to “discuss and analyse,” the attacks, army spokesman Mohamed Samir said in a statement on his official Facebook page.

The statement, however, did not specify the exact number of those killed in the attacks. Reports by local and international media quoted anonymous sources putting the death toll at 30-32, while Al Jazeera said 42 had been killed.

“The army’s offensives against terrorism, aided by the police and supported by the people, will continue and intensify in the peninsula, and across the country,” said Samir.

A security source told Al-Ahram’s Arabic website that the army have responded to Thursday’s attacks by starting wide military offensives throughout North Sinai, targeting terrorist hideouts using Apache helicopters and un-manned planes.

Attacks by militant groups based in North Sinai have spiked since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, with security forces being the primary targets. The armed forces have responded by waging a military campaign aimed at eradicating militants from Sinai.

Also on Friday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab called on states and human rights organisations to “record and witness Egypt’s sacrifices in the face of terrorism.” Egypt’s sacrifices, according to Mahlab, aim to defend the entire world from terrorism.

In the wake of the attacks, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi cut short a visit to Addis Ababa, where he was attending the 24th African Union Summit, to return to Cairo.

Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks on an affiliated Twitter account.

The group, which has claimed a number of attacks in the peninsula, pledged in November its allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), the militant group which controls large swathes in Iraq and Syria.

Parts of North Sinai are currently under an 11-hour curfew that was put in place following another deadly attack on 24 October that left 31 soldiers dead.

The curfew was initially imposed for three months but was extended last week for another three months, to expire on 24 April.

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