Sinai shoot-out leaves 11 dead


Egyptian security forces killed 11 suspected militants in a shoot-out in al-Arish state news agency MENA reported, as authorities push ahead with an operation to crush Islamic State.

The shoot-out occurred during a raid on a suspected militant hideout in an abandoned house in al-Arish, MENA said, citing an unnamed security source. Three machine guns and a rifle were found, MENA said.

The report did not mention casualties or wounded among the security forces.

Interior ministry officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.

In February Egypt launched a much-publicised operation against Islamic State militants who have waged years of attacks on security forces and civilians, killing hundreds.

The death of the 11 brings the total of those killed since the beginning of the operation to at least 261 suspected militants, according to a Reuters count based on military statements. At least 35 military personnel also died since February, according to the same Reuters count.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in November ordered armed forces to defeat militants in three months after an attack on a mosque in Sinai killed more than 300 people.

Defeating Islamists and restoring security after years of unrest has been a promise of Sisi, re-elected in March in a landslide victory against no real opposition.

Sisi critics say his presidency brought a harsh crackdown on dissent, but supporters say the measures are needed to stabilise Egypt, rocked by years of unrest after protests toppled veteran leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.