A local security source, who was not identified in reports, said a group of militants from Velayat Sinai group, previously known as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, stormed an airfield in the al-Jourah district of the volatile territory late on Tuesday, and fired a number of rockets at the site, Arabic-language newspaper al-Youm al-Saba’ reported.
Egyptian special forces then engaged the assailants, and killed 16 of the extremists during a fierce exchange of fire. There were, however, no reports of casualties on the side of the government forces.
Egyptian troopers later destroyed two vehicles loaded with light and heavy weapons as well as a considerable amount of mortar rounds.
Jourah airfield reportedly houses international peacekeepers from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Fiji, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the United States and Uruguay.
Egyptian security forces also conducted operations in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, situated 334 kilometers (214 miles) northeast of the capital, Cairo, the border town of Rafah, located 340 kilometers (211 miles) east of Cairo, as well as the city of el-Arish, situated 344 kilometers (214 miles) northeast of the Egyptian capital, and killed six militants.
Sixteen militants, among them three on a list of most wanted terrorists, were also arrested, seven militant hideouts were destroyed and 13 unlicensed motorcycles confiscated.
The Egyptian military views the Sinai Peninsula a sanctuary for extremists, who use the volatile region as a launch pad for their “acts of terror.”
Gunmen have intensified terrorist attacks in Sinai ever since Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, was toppled in a military coup led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s current president and the then army commander, in July 2013.
Velayat Sinai terrorists have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks in Sinai Peninsula. Last November, the group pledged allegiance to the ISIL terrorist group, which is wreaking havoc primarily in Iraq and neighboring Syria.