A member of the Egyptian security forces speaks on the phone while securing an area in El-Arish on the Sinai peninsula.

Cairo ? Egypt?s armed forces have killed 32 ?criminal elements? in an ongoing operation against Islamists in the lawless Sinai peninsula, a military spokesperson said on Saturday.

Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali told reporters that 38 people including ?non-Egyptians? had been arrested during ?Operation Sinai?, which was launched on 7 August, days after gunmen killed 16 soldiers at a border post there.

?The operation will continue until its goals have been achieved? These are not just military goals but also developmental goals for the Sinai,? Ali said.

The statements were likely to unnerve Israel, which had expressed ?reservations? over Egypt?s deployment of reinforcements in the peninsula, with which it shares a border.But Ali insisted that ?the deployment of the armed forces, on all the territory of Sinai, is not a violation of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel?.

?Our presence [in Sinai] is in the frame of co-ordination,? with the Israelis, Ali said.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said last week he expected the Egyptian army to withdraw its reinforcements from the peninsula at the end of the operation.

Source : AFP

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