EL--ARISH, Egypt (AP) — Egypt said Saturday that security forces killed 21 militants in two separate raids in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula.
The Interior Ministry said the militants were plotting attacks during the Eid el-Fitr holiday, which begins Sunday and marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
It said two Egyptian officers were wounded in the raids.
It said security forces exchanged fire with Islamic militants as they stormed a farm used as a hideout, killing at least 14 militants. In a simultaneous raid, security forces killed seven militants in a shootout as they stormed a house used as a hideout in another area, the ministry said. It added that police found weapons, explosive devices and suicide belts.
The details could not be independently corroborated as Egyptian authorities heavily restrict access to that part of Sinai.
The ministry did not say when the raids occurred. Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media, said the raids were launched early Saturday.
Egypt has been battling militants in the northern part of Sinai Peninsula for years, but the insurgency became far more deadly after the 2013 military ouster of Mohammed Morsi, an elected but divisive Islamist president, amid nationwide protests against his brief rule.
An Islamic State affiliate based in the Sinai has carried out high-profile attacks in recent years, mainly targeting security forces and Egypt’s Christian minority.