By Hussein Qabani
Two soldiers were killed as part of a massive military operation in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, according to the Egyptian military on Sunday.
In a statement, military spokesman Col. Tamer Rifai said the two were killed and six others injured “as a result of combat operations”, without giving further details.
The spokesman said Egyptian warplanes struck nine militant hideouts in northern and central Sinai and the Nile Delta.
“Sixteen militants were killed in two operations in Sinai,” the spokesman said, without specifying the exact location.
He said three militants have been detained in central Sinai upon a tip-off from local residents.
The spokesman said a cache of weapons and explosives had been seized from an underground depot in the North Sinai city of Rafah.
Sunday’s fatalities bring to 18 soldiers killed since the security operation against militants blamed for a string of attacks across the country began on Feb. 9.
More than 2,830 people have also been detained.
The Sinai operation comes amid preparations to hold Egypt’s presidential election later this month, 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.