CAIRO, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian army officer and two soldiers were killed during a shootout with terrorists in Egypt's North and Central Sinai, the Egyptian army said on Monday.
Four terrorists were also killed in armed clashes with army troops, the army said in an official statement.
Meanwhile, Egyptian military jets have destroyed five targets of terrorists in Sinai as part of a major military operation that started on February 9 to uproot terrorist groups in the terror-hit peninsula.
The comprehensive anti-terror operation, dubbed "Sinai 2018," comes weeks before Egypt starts its 2018 presidential elections scheduled for late March, when incumbent President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is expected to make an easy win for a second term due to the lack of strong challengers in the race.
According to the army's statement, military engineers destroyed 101 explosive charges that had been planted in areas of the operation, the statement read.
Four caves and hideouts were also destroyed, it said, adding that they contained mines, bombs, weapons and ammunition, as well as automotive spare parts.
A media center of terrorists has also been detected, the statement said, noting that it contained computers, weapons and wireless communication devices.
The troops also destroyed 244 hideouts and caches that contained machine guns, ammunition and wireless communication devices, according to the statement.
Bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, Egypt's North Sinai province has been the center of terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers following the military ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 in response to mass protests.
Attacks later expanded to reach several other provinces including Cairo and started to target the Coptic minority via church bombings and shootings.
Most of the terror attacks were carried out by the so-called Wilayat Sinai (Sinai state or province), a Sinai-based group affiliated with the Islamic State group.