The military spokesperson, Mohamed Samir, stated via the Armed Forces’ official Facebook page that they had discovered the body of a kidnapped police officer in Northern Sinai on Tuesday morning.
He later added that the military had killed 10 militants in the area where the policeman was kidnapped, who he said were in possession of explosive belts, grenades and a number of vehicles. He explained that the military was in the process of conducting operations in the area, when they found and killed 10 “terrorists” following an exchange of fire.
The kidnapping took place near Arish, the provincial capital of Northern Sinai. Samir asserted that the military is in control of the area where Captain Ayman Ibrahim Dessouky disappeared and his body was later found.
Unidentified gunmen kidnapped Dessouky — who works for the ports security division of the police force — as he was traveling to Rafah.
The military is reportedly continuing “search and siege operations” in the area until they have found and arrested all “supporters of terrorism,” Samir added.
The Armed Forces has been waging an intense crackdown in North Sinai since October, when a militant attack left 33 security personnel dead. In response to the attack, the military created a buffer zone between Gaza and North Sinai to reportedly prevent smuggling between Egypt and Gaza.
In order to create the buffer zone, security forces evacuated residences from Rafah, displacing 1156 families and destroying over 800 residences. The families are reportedly due to be compensated LE300 a month, which the military says is competitive with rental prices in Rafah.
Local media, including the state-owned Al-Ahram and the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspapers, have attributed the recent kidnapping to the Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdes, however this has not been confirmed by the Armed Forces.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdes has previously claimed responsibility for other attacks on security forces in Northern Sinai.
Due to the kidnapping, the military delayed the opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Sinai, which has been closed due to security concerns since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.
The last time the crossing was open was during the last week of December, when students and some individuals needing medical care were permitted to enter Egypt. This was the first time it was opened since the October attack that left 33 security personnel in North Sinai dead.
On Monday, Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat banned the media from reporting on the kidnapping.