Egypt army says Sinai patrols kill 60 militants in month

CAIRO Wed Aug 7, 2013 10:55am EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's army said on Wednesday that it had killed 60 militants in the lawless Sinai Peninsula in the month since the military overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

Citing widening "terrorist operations" in "recent times", the army said it was conducting an intensified campaign in Sinai in coordination with the interior ministry to crack down on militants that "threaten Egyptian national security."

Militants based mainly in North Sinai near Israel's border have escalated attacks on security forces and other targets since July 3, when the army deposed Mursi and installed a new government.

Army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali announced the "results" of the crackdown on his Facebook page, reporting that an additional 64 militants were injured in the Sinai campaign between July 5 and August 4. Over 100 were arrested, said the army.

The militants have struck on an almost daily basis and killed around 40 people, according to medical officials. Many of those killed were members of the security forces.

Egypt has also stepped up its efforts since Mursi's overthrow to close smuggling tunnels from Sinai to the Gaza Strip, cutting off supplies of commercial goods to the Palestinian territory.

(Reporting By Omar Fahmy, Maggie Fick and Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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