CAIRO - Egyptian armed forces and police killed 12 militants in North Sinai during anti-terrorist raids, state media reported on Thursday.

“The national security forces have killed seven highly dangerous militants in the North Sinai’s city of Arish in exchange of fire,” State Information Service said in a statement.

Other five militants were killed in shootout at the ring road near Arish city.

Explosive devices, motor bikes and large amount of ammunition were seized with the terrorist, the statement added.

“The terrorist dangerous elements have been hiding inside deserted houses in the area of ‘build your house’ in Arish city,” an official security source told Xinhua on conditions of anonymity.

The security forces have raided the houses on Thursday early morning, and the militants started shooting once the forces were approaching, the source added. He added seven automatic weapons, one explosive belt and two explosive devices were found at the houses.

The security forces have combed through the surrounding areas in search for other fled suspects, the source added.

Sinai Peninsula is the stronghold of terrorist groups in Egypt, with Sinai State, an Egyptian branch of the Islamic State, as the severest.

In February, Egypt started the comprehensive “Sinai 2018” anti-terror campaign that has killed over 430 militants and 32 soldiers so far.