SHEIKH ZUWEID , Egypt, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Egyptian security forces said Tuesday they killed 55 militants and lost two soldiers during a counter-terrorism operation in the Sinai Peninsula.
Quoting a military statement, Xinhua news agency reported the operation, now in its ninth day, was launched to clear militants from the villages of Rafah, Sheikh Zuweid and El Arish in the north of the peninsula.
At least 12 soldiers were wounded and 35 militants detained, and security forces are reported to have defused 41 explosive devices and uncovered large caches of weapons and ammunition.
Since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Egypt has battled Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula, including the Islamic State-affiliated Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has re-branded itself as the "Sinai Province."
Attacks by the militants in the peninsula earlier this summer -- including a rocket strike on a naval vessel -- killed scores of Egyptian troops, prompting Egyptian President Abel-Fatah al-Sisi to say his country was "in a real state of war."
Early July militant assaults in the town of Sheikh Zuweid killed dozens of Egyptian soldiers and police officers, and insurgent forces continued attacking security checkpoints in the town for weeks.
A roadside bombing in the peninsula earlier this month injured six multinational peacekeepers, including four Americans.