Egypt says 20 militants killed in security swoop

CAIRO (AA) – At least 20 militants have been killed in a wide-ranging security operation in the restive Sinai Peninsula and western Egypt, according to the Egyptian military.

A military statement said seven militants were killed in an airstrike in a desert area in western Egypt.

A cache of weapons and explosives belts have been seized during the operation, it said.

Security forces also killed 13 militants in an exchange of fire in central and western Sinai, according to the statement.

A total of 18 militants have also been rounded up during the operation, it added.

The statement, however, did not give details about casualties among security forces during the swoops.

Since February, Egyptian security forces have been waging extensive operations against militants in Sinai and western Egypt suspected of carrying out a series of recent attacks.

According to figures released by the military, 393 militants and 37 military personnel have so far been killed in the operation, which remains ongoing.

The Sinai Peninsula has remained the epicenter of a militant insurgency since mid-2013, when Mohamed Morsi — Egypt’s first-ever freely elected president — was ousted in a military coup.