At least 15 radical Islamists died Tuesday in an extensive military operation on the northern Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian security sources told Efe.

The suspected extremists, who, according to the sources, had taken part in attacks against checkpoints on the conflicted peninsula, were killed in predawn raids in the Rafah and al-Arish areas.

Official news agency Mena, citing a military official, said that in the operation in which four helicopters were used, eight suspected terrorists were killed, another 15 were wounded and three were captured.

The helicopters destroyed a vehicle in which several extremists were traveling and bombed radical hideouts in the northern Sinai, Mena said.

In recent months, the Sinai has become a focus of instability and the scene of attacks against security forces and gas pipelines, as well as of smuggling and kidnappings.

The situation grew more tense following the July 3 military coup that toppled elected President Mohammed Morsi.

To restore stability to the peninsula, the armed forces and police have launched a campaign of pursuit and capture of suspected Islamist radicals, which also includes the seizure of arms and munitions. EFE