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Air strikes have killed 19 members, including several leaders, of Egypt’s ISIS affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula where the extremists are waging an insurgency, the Egyptian military said on Thursday.

In a statement on its official Facebook page, the military said the air strikes were directed at militants in Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which pledged allegiance to ISIS in November 2014 and adopted the name Sinai Province.

The military did not name the leaders it had killed in the strikes, but described one as among the group’s most prominent members, and another as the head of its religious affairs committee. The third was an official in charge of interrogations.

The announcement came after the jihadists claimed a series of attacks, including a shooting near St. Catherine’s monastery in south Sinai this week and twin church bombings on April 9 that killed dozens.

On Wednesday, the interior ministry said security forces killed a gunman suspected of killing a policeman and wounding three others near the monastery the day before.

The jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since 2013.

The military has killed several of their top leaders, but the extremists have increasingly expanded their attacks from the Sinai to other parts of Egypt, especially against Christians.

Egypt is tightening security ahead of a visit by Pope Francis next week.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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