An Egyptian court Tuesday sentenced 14 Islamists to death after finding them guilty of attacks last year on a police station and bank in al-Arish city in the Sinai Peninsula, state-run newspaper Al Ahram online reported.
The court in the city of Ismailiya convicted the 14 of carrying out the attacks in June and July 2011 on behalf of the hardline group Tawhid wal Jihad (Monotheism and Holy War).
Al Ahram online reported that the 14 defendants killed five police officers in the town of al-Arish in North Sinai. One civilian was killed in an attack on a bank in the same town.
Meanwhile, according to the ongoing operation targeting terrorism in Sinai, large military forces, together with special forces, launched operations in el-Arish and surrounding villages early on Tuesday.
Apache helicopters escorted ground forces, security source said.
Furthermore, Egyptian security officials say they seized documents detailing the names and operational information of militants in Sinai on Tuesday during a raid in Sheikh Zuwaid.
A man identified as Muhammad C and his brother were arrested from al-Goura, while other suspected militants escaped, the security official said.
Egyptian soldiers seized a computer containing data including the identities of "terrorists" working in the area and communications between them, he added.
Earlier, a group of armed men opened fire at a checkpoint in al-Arish city, a security source said. No injuries were reported.
In a separate incident, two men in a four-wheel-drive vehicle opened fire on a police station in the city. Police fired back but the men escaped, the security source told AFP news.
According to a senior security source, five men were detained in al-Goura on Monday, as troops searched for those those responsible for the killing of 16 border guards on Aug. 5. Four of the militants were Egyptian and one was a Palestinian from Gaza Strip.
In related news, the U.S. defense secretary said that the U.S. will provide an additional military assistance to peacekeeping forces in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula to strengthen security in the region.
He said that so far the Pentagon had not moved to send additional U.S. troops to Sinai, but a truck-mounted tracking system sent to the Sinai would allow Egyptian troops to follow friendly forces.
"We just want to make sure that we know how those forces are deployed in order to ensure that we can more effectively go after those terrorists that would try to create an incident or terrorist act," Panetta said.
It is worth mentioning that the the U.S. has about 800 troops in the Sinai as part of Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) which has monitored movements of troops and military equipment along Egypt's border with Israel since their 1979 peace treaty.
In response to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's decisions to limit the power of the military council, White House press secretary Jay Carney urged Egypt's military and the civil government to work together.
"It is important for the Egyptian military and civilian leadership to work closely together to address the economic and security challenges facing Egypt,"Carney said.