This file 2017 photo posted on a file sharing website by Daesh in Sinai shows an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint. Image Credit: AP

Abu Dhabi: Egypt’s interior ministry said Saturday 21 suspected militants were killed in North Sinai [services] in a fire-fight with security forces.

“National security received intelligence about terrorist elements hiding out and taking a farm in North Sinai as a headquarters for shelter, training and planning to carry out attacks and deploying a number of their elements to a house in the Bir Alabd area to launch terrorist operations to coincide with Eid Al Fitr,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Their hideouts were targeted simultaneously and a fire-fight ensued which led to the death of 14 militants in the farm and seven in the house.”

In the farm, security forces found 13 automatic weapons, an explosive belt and three other explosive devices in their possession, while four automatic weapons, two explosive devices and an explosive belt were found in the house, the ministry said.

Two officers were injured in the operation, the ministry said.

Egypt’s army said last month that 10 soldiers, including an officer, had been killed or wounded in an explosion targeting an armoured vehicle near Bir Al Abed in North Sinai.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack, in a statement posted on its propaganda channels.

On May 1, the Egyptian army killed two suspected militants in North Sinai province, army spokesman Tamer Al Rifai said.

Security forces have been battlng a long-running Islamist insurgency in the area, spearheaded by a local Daesh affiliate.

The fighting intensified after the military’s 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

In February 2018, security forces launched a nationwide operation against militants, focused on North Sinai.

More than 950 suspected militants have been killed in the region along with dozens of security personnel, according to official figures.