By Mohamed Mahmoud
CAIRO (AA) – Three army troops were killed as part of an ongoing security operation in the restive Sinai Peninsula, according to the Egyptian military on Monday.
In a statement, the army said security forces destroyed five militant targets and killed four “extremely dangerous” gunmen as part of the operation.
“An officer and two conscripts were killed during a clash,” the statement said, adding that two other officers were injured.
According to the statement, some 417 suspected militants were detained during the operation.
Monday’s casualties are the first to be announced by the army since the operation began last week against militants blamed for a string of attacks across the country.
The statement said 101 explosives were defused and 244 hideouts destroyed during the operation.
The offensive comes amid preparations to hold the country’s presidential election in March, in which incumbent President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi seeks re-election.
In November, more than 300 people were killed in a deadly militant attack on a mosque in the Sinai Peninsula. Following the attack, al-Sisi, a former army chief, ordered the army to crush Sinai-based militant groups within three months.
The Sinai Peninsula has remained the epicenter of a militant insurgency since 2013, when the army ousted Mohamed Morsi -- Egypt's first freely elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader -- in a military coup.