Egyptian military helicopters launched air raids on suspected Islamic militants in Sinai near the Israeli border Wednesday, killing more than 20 in Touma village. The aerial attacks were in response to the attack by gunmen on the Egyptian border police station Sunday which killed 16 guards.
The strikes were a part of the Egyptian effort to retake control over the lawless Sinai Peninsula, which Israel returned to Egypt under the 1979 peace treaty by which the latter agreed to leave the area demilitarized. The aerial bombings, which hit the town of Sheikh Zuwaid 10 kilometers from the Gaza Strip, closely followed overnight clashes Tuesday between militants and security forces at several checkpoints in the north of Sinai.
Witnesses in Sheikh Zuwaid told Reuters they saw two military planes fly over the area and heard explosions. Some people near the town said they saw three cars bombed.
Egyptian forces targeted Touma village, close to Sheikh Zuwaid after receiving information that militants were staying there, Reuters reported quoting a military commander
“We have succeeded in entering al-Toumah village, killed 20 terrorists and destroyed three armored cars belonging to terrorists. Operations are still ongoing,” the commander said.