Smoke rises Sept. 17 after a government airstrike in Egypt's northern Sinai peninsula, where the Egyptian army has conducted battles against militants. Egyptian security forces reportedly killed 25 militants and arrested another 15 suspected jihadists Sunday during the second phase of a joint police and military operation in the region. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo
AL-ARISH, Egypt, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Egyptian security forces on Sunday said they killed at least 25 militants in the Sinai Peninsula, one day after gunmen killed a conservative parliamentary candidate living in the region.
Egypt's state-run MENA news agency said the casualties were a result of the past two days of the so-called Martyr's Right, a joint police and military operation launched in the peninsula in September.
Xinhua news agency reported police and soldiers dismantled 39 explosive devices, apprehended 15 suspected militants, and destroyed multiple explosives caches and at least seven tons of cannabis.
The development comes one day after Mostafa Abdelrahman, a conservative parliamentary candidate with the Salafist Nour party, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen outside his home in the North Sinai town of al-Arish. Militants in the town killed an Egyptian police commander Sept. 20 and a senior police officer earlier the same week.
Since the 2013 overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi, 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."
On Sept. 15, nine days into Martyr's Right, Egyptian security forces said they killed 55 militants and lost two soldiers. The second phase of the operation began Oct. 7.
Daily News Egypt reported Thursday Egyptian soldiers and police killed 20 militants and arrested another 78 suspected jihadists during raids in the North Sinai towns of al-Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, which have been the focus of the current operation.
Early July militant assaults in the town of Sheikh Zuweid killed dozens of Egyptian soldiers and police officers, and insurgent forces attacked security checkpoints in the town for weeks.
Since 2013, attacks by militants in the peninsula -- including a rocket strike on a naval vessel in July -- reportedly killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police officers, prompting Egyptian President Abel-Fatah al-Sisi to say his country is "in a real state of war."