Egyptian police detained 500 people for questioning Monday in a massive search for militants in the Sinai peninsula following terrorist attacks.
About 3,500 police, backed by at least 20 armored cars, took part in the operation. Some officers went from house to house in el-Arish, the principal town in northeast Sinai and about 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip. Others fanned out into the desert.
Most of the 500 were detained in el-Arish, where the sweep began at dawn, said a security official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to issue statements. The official added many detainees were taken in for questioning and are not expected to be charged, the AP reports.
Sinai has been the scene of several major terrorist attacks during the past year. On July 23, three bomb attacks in the south Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheik killed at least 68 people. In October last year, suicide bombers in Taba and another east Sinai resort killed 34 people.
Last week a roadside bomb slightly wounded two Canadian members of the Multinational Force and Observers in north Sinai.
Monday's operation is not connected to the current deployment of 750 Egyptian security forces along the Gaza-Egypt border. Those forces are intended to prevent arms smuggling across the border after Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.