Six suspected militants held near scene of Sinai clashes

 

Six suspected militants have been captured in the Sinai region, Egyptian police said yesterday, following an attack on a police station near the frontier with Israel this week in which 16 border guards were killed.

A military source told state television that the six men had been seized in the border settlement of Sheikh Zuwaid, where Egyptian warplanes fired rockets at suspected militant hideouts on Wednesday.

It was claimed that the detained men had previously been arrested after bombings in resorts along Sinai's southern Red Sea coast between 2004 and 2006 that killed or wounded hundreds of foreign tourists, and that they were jailed for months before being freed without charge.

Egypt sent hundreds of troops and armoured vehicles into north Sinai on Thursday to tackle militants operating near the border, and commanders said up to 20 insurgents had been killed.

The campaign, which Cairo billed as its biggest military operation in the desert region since the 1973 war with Israel, is seen as crucial to the maintenance of stable relations between Egypt and Israel.

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