CAIRO — Egypt has reported a crackdown on the Islamic insurgency network.
The Interior Ministry said security forces raided suspected insurgency strongholds throughout northern Egypt. The ministry said 52 alleged operatives from eight cells were rounded up in six provinces.
“These cells planned to attack railroads, electrical stations and other infrastructure,” the Interior Ministry said.
Egypt has also acknowledged the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. Officials cited a three-man cell captured in mid-October in Cairo that sought to recruit Egyptians for ISIL’s wars in Iraq and Syria.
The statement on Oct. 18 marked one of the biggest crackdowns on the Islamic network in 2014. The Interior Ministry said arrests took place in the provinces of Alexandria, Daqahliya, Fayoum, Giza, Minya and Sharqiya, located near the Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea.
Officials did not identify the suspects or their affiliation. But they said many of them were believed linked to either Ansar Beit Maqdis or the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. They said the Egyptian Army captured Walid Atallah, identified as the leader of Ansar’s military wing in the North Sinai province.
“He is a Palestinian who received Egyptian citizenship during the tenure of [ousted] President Mohammed Morsi,” an official said.
The Interior Ministry said authorities seized weapons, explosives and a large sum of money from the suspected strongholds. Ministry spokesman Hani Abdul Latif said the operation was meant to foil Brotherhood attacks on Egypt’s infrastructure.
“The terrorist cells planted bombs in places where people gather,” Abdul Latif said. “Some of the detainees provided information that led to the exposure of their hideouts.”
The spokesman cited the Islamic cell in Alexandria, accused of recruiting and organizing attacks. Abdul Latif said the cell sought to sow panic among students meant to delay the start of the new year.
“They received a devastating blow,” Abdul Latif said.
Ansar was also continuing operations in Sinai. On Oct. 19, at least seven soldiers were killed in an explosion near two army armored personnel vehicles near the North Sinai capital of El Arish.
“The explosion destroyed one vehicle and caused huge damage to the second vehicle,” a military statement said.