Egypt’s military says its warplanes have destroyed 10 arms-loaded off-road vehicles belonging to terrorists as they were attempting to infiltrate into the African country through its porous border with volatile Libya.
“The forces detected and pursued 10 four-by-four vehicles loaded with amounts of weapons, ammunition and smuggled material at the western borderline,” said military spokesman Tamer al-Refaay in a statement on Saturday.
He added that the army’s air force, in coordination with border guards and intelligence, managed to destroy all the vehicles and kill “the terrorist elements therein.”
The statement went on to say that the strike was part of a continued combing operation to stop any penetration or infiltration by militants through the western border.
Late last month, the army announced an aerial raid on an area some 80 kilometers southwest of the capital Cairo in the country’s Western Desert, where “a large number of terrorist elements” were killed.
The military at the time asserted that the counterterrorism operation was carried out on those who were suspected of involvement in a deadly ambush on Egyptian police less than two weeks earlier around 135 kilometers southwest of Cairo, which was a rare flare-up outside the restive Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian Interior Ministry said that 16 police lost their lives in the ambush.
However, security sources claim that more than 50 were killed in the September 20 incident. The attack sparked huge public anger in Egypt, with many questioning President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s success in fighting militants across Egypt.
In recent months, there has been an uptick in attacks in Western Desert close to the Libyan border, raising questions as to whether the area has become a second theater of operations for the militants beside the volatile Sinai Peninsula.
Over the past few years, militants have been carrying out anti-government activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt that erupted after the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup in July 2013.