Egypt’s military killed 20 militants in a raid using helicopter gunships in Sinai on Wednesday, a military official said, days after 16 soldiers were killed in an attack attributed to Islamic extremists.
The strikes — the military’s first in the Sinai Peninsula for decades — were carried out on the village of Tumah as security forces massed near Rafah on the Gaza border for what they called a decisive confrontation with the militants.
A senior military official in Sinai, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said “20 terrorists were killed” in Apache helicopter air strikes and when soldiers with the 2nd Infantry Division stormed Tumah.
The air strikes came a day after the military held a funeral for the 16 soldiers killed on Sunday’s attack by militants amid widespread calls for vengeance.
The soldiers were killed when Islamist militants raided a border guard base under the cover of mortar fire, and comandeered a military vehicle into neighbouring Israel before they were stopped by an Israeli helicopter.
Security forces had raided homes on Tuesday in search of suspects in the attack, as they prepared to close tunnels to the Palestinian Gaza Strip used to smuggle weapons and militants as well as food and other supplies.