Some 2,100 members of Egypt’s security forces swept through the rugged desert of the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday, arresting 300 people as they searched for terrorists involved in a series of recent bombings, security officials said.
Most of the arrests took place in el-Arish, a north Sinai town near the border of Gaza and Israel, a security official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to issue public statements.
Earlier, another security official said troops would start searching for suspects in the region on Monday.
The open-ended manhunt is not connected with the deployment of 750 Egyptian security forces along the Gaza-Egypt border, in agreement with Israel as it abandons settlements in the Palestinian enclave.
Israeli forces have clashed often there with Palestinian arms smugglers and have destroyed dozens of smuggler tunnels.
Until last year, the Red Sea area, including Egypt’s Sinai, had been free of militant-inspired violence.
Beginning last October, however, the area has seen a string of deadly attacks that began at hotels in the Egyptian resort of Taba. Last month, dozens were killed in three blasts that targeted Sharm el-Sheik, the highly popular resort at the southern tip of the Sinai.
Last week, a bomb in northern Sinai hit a vehicle carrying peacekeepers of the Multinational Force and Observers, which is helping monitor the 1979 Egypt-Israeli peace agreement. Two Canadian soldiers were injured.