CAIRO, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Egypt is on maximum security alert nationwide on Friday as its troops and police launched a major anti-terror operation to eradicate terrorism.
The operation covers areas in Sinai, the Delta and the Western Desert, and the border cities, said Tamer el Refai, a spokesperson of the armed forces.
Armored vehicles and tanks were seen deployed in North Sinai cities of Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid.
The communication networks were almost cut in Northern Sinai areas, according to eye witnesses.
Smoke of blast was seen in the sky of western Rafah city, while sounds of air raids were heard in north and central Sinai, they said.
"The law enforcement forces began this morning implementing the comprehensive confrontation against the terrorist, criminal elements and organizations in northern and central Sinai," Refai said in a televised statement.
He added that the operation is launched as part of the efforts to reach the three-month deadline set by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to eliminate terrorism after the mosque attack that killed more than 300 people in the northern Sinai city of Arish in November, 2017.
"The airstrikes came in parallel with a comprehensive plan for securing the marine ports and the navigation crossings," the army spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, strict security measures have been enforced in the vicinity of vital institutions, national projects, religious houses, electricity and water plants, and major tourist sites, an official security source was quoted by official news agency MENA as saying.
"Comprehensive operation meant coordination among all branches and departments of both the armed forces and the police in different provinces across the country," said General Nagy Shahoud, a security expert with the Nasser Military Academy.
The armed forces have identified the places of the terrorist in most of the areas and will raid them simultaneously, said Shahoud, adding that the operation will focus this time on eliminating the weapons warehouses in Sinai and along the borders with Libya.
Egyptian security forces have been fighting the Islamic militants, mainly in North Sinai, since the removal of former President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood by the military in 2013.
The militants have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in terror attacks in the past years, which have now spread to target civilians in the capital and other cities.