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Egyptian forces kill 11 militants in Sinai

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN
August 30, 2012 -- Updated 0055 GMT (0855 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Operation Eagle" used Apache gunships and M-60 tanks against suspected militants
  • It was launched after gunmen killed 16 soldiers on August 8 in North Sinai
  • Egypt will "finish off all terrorist cells in the Sinai," the defense ministry says
  • Sinai fell into a state of lawlessness after the uprising that toppled Mubarak

(CNN) -- The Egyptian military's campaign against suspected militant Jihadi cells holed up in the Sinai peninsula has killed 11 terrorists and captured 23, Egypt's defense ministry said Wednesday.

Operation Eagle is a massive offensive using Apache gunships and M-60 tanks launched after unidentified masked gunmen killed 16 soldiers on August 8 in the border city of Rafah in North Sinai.

"The armed forces will continue Operation Eagle to pursue the terrorists and will start on Wednesday to redeploy its forces to complete its pursuit of the fugitive terrorists and finish off all terrorist cells in the Sinai," a defense ministry statement said.

Panetta tries to help secure Sinai with intel aid

Two improvised landmines, made with bottles of fuel, were found and disarmed along a highway in North Sinai Wednesday, according to a security official who asked not to be identified.

Israeli and Egyptian authorities coordinated to allow the helicopter gunships and heavy machinery into the demilitarized zone in accord with the Camp David agreement signed in 1979.

No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack that has gripped the nation and the international media.

Twenty mediators representing the president's office and including religious scholars and Islamists arrived in the Sinai last week and met secretly with jihadists.

"We agreed that the (military) operation should continue in order to root out those who committed the Rafa attack, without breach of human rights, (without) random arrests and attacks," said Nizar Ghorab, a former member of parliament involved in the meeting.

Sinai had fallen into a state of lawlessness since the uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last year. Both Israel and the United States have voiced their concern about the rise of terrorist cells in the Sinai.

Tricky game of power in Egypt

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