According to Egyptian state TV, a military operation took place at Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai. Eyewitnesses said the operation began after armed men took up positions on top of a water tank and fired shots at a passing security patrol, which returned fire.
The incident prompted a security alert, and the armed forces closed the areas south of Sheikh Zuweid and began searching for the attackers.
Egyptian Armed Forces spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohamed Ali issued a statement on Sunday in which he said members of the armed forces “arrested 25 members of the takfirists [groups], including a Palestinian national and another man who had in his possession a computer which contained pictures, information and plans of terrorist operations.”
Colonel Ali added: “The armed forces also arrested Ghanim Hussein Suleiman, who is a very dangerous member of the takfirists, following a violent pursuit and exchange of fire with the armed forces.” Two other wanted men surrendered to police in central Sheikh Zuweid, he said.
The security forces also destroyed four vehicles, 16 motorcycles without ID plates, and destroyed six houses and confiscated a wireless device, he added.
The Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis group, which is based in North Sinai, has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on army and police targets both in the peninsula and Cairo, as well as the failed attempt to assassinate Egypt’s interior minister in September last year.
On Saturday, judicial authorities referred 200 alleged members of the group to the criminal court. The prosecutor said the suspects had committed 51 terrorist attacks in which 40 police officers and 15 civilians were killed and 348 people injured.
Egypt’s interim government and security forces say the extremist groups in Sinai are affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, but the Brotherhood denies the accusations and insists that its members are committed to non-violence.
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have demonstrated on a daily basis since the ouster of former president Mohamed Mursi last year. Eyewitnesses said students affiliated to the Brotherhood raised an Al-Qaeda flag at Minia University during a student march on Sunday while they chanted anti-army and anti-police slogans.
The pro-Brotherhood students also blocked the East Cairo Road on Sunday during their protests against the candidacy of former field marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in the forthcoming presidential election.