Thirty-three militants have been killed since Egypt launched a military operation in the Sinai peninsular in August in the wake of an attack on army posts in which 16 soldiers were killed, a military spokesman said Saturday.
Weapons were also seized and around 31 tunnels used for smuggling between Egypt and the Gaza Stip were destroyed, Colonel Ahmed Mohammed Ali told reporters.
The tunnels were being used to smuggle weapons, he said. Unmanned drones, automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition were seized in the operation, dpa reported.
Suspected Islamist gunmen attacked an army checkpoint on August 5, killing 16 soldiers. The military launched an operation codenamed Nisr (Eagle) and later changed to Operation Sinai.
Israel had reportedly expressed concern over the heightened military presence near its border, as tanks were deployed in areas where Egypt's military presence is strictly limited by the country's 1979 treaty with Israel,
According to Ali however, Egypt and Israel have been coordinating in the operation, which would continue until its goals are achieved.
"Egypt is coordinating with the Israeli side over the presence of armed forces in Sinai," he said. "The deployment of the armed forces on all the territory of Sinai is not a violation of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel."
While the government insists that the campaign against the militants continues, observers suggest the focus is increasingly on mediation efforts led by a delegation of Salafist sheikhs sent to the region by President Mohammed Morsi.
Over the past two weeks, security sources have reported that tanks were withdrawn from areas near the borders, and were to be replaced by smaller armoured vehicles.
Morsi held a meeting with Defence Minister Abdul-Fatah al-Sissi on Saturday to discuss developments in Sinai, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said.
Since the ouster last year of Morsi's predecessor, Hosny Mubarak,, Islamist militants are believed to have been responsible for several attacks on a Sinai pipeline that exports gas to Israel, as well as raids on police stations in the mountainous desert peninsula.