By Mohamed al-Rayes
Four soldiers have been killed in the Sinai Peninsula as part of an ongoing military operation against militants in the restive region, according to the Egyptian military on Monday.
A military statement said 36 militants were killed in an exchange of fire with security forces in the North Sinai city of Arish in the past five days.
Warplanes struck 12 militant hideouts and destroyed a booby-trapped car south of Arish, the statement said.
As a result of the military operation, “an officer and three conscripts were killed”, the statement said.
Eight troops, including three army officers, were also injured.
According to the statement, a total of 345 suspected militants were detained by security forces in the past five days.
Monday’s fatalities bring to 22 soldiers killed since the security operation against militants blamed for a string of attacks across the country began on Feb. 9.
More than 3,100 people have also been detained.
The Sinai operation comes amid preparations to hold Egypt’s presidential election next week, in which incumbent President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi seeks re-election.
The Sinai Peninsula has remained the epicenter of a militant insurgency since 2013, when the army ousted Mohamed Morsi -- Egypt's first freely elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader -- in a military coup.