CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's military says seven troops have been killed so far in a massive security operation launched this month against Islamic militants in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula and other areas.

The military's spokesman, Tamer al-Rifai, said on Thursday that six soldiers have been wounded during the operation, which began Feb. 9.

He says 71 militants have been killed and five arrested. Troops also arrested 1,852 others, including "criminal elements" and people suspected of supporting militants, many of whom have since been released.

The military's figures cannot be independently confirmed as journalists are barred from the area.

The operation covers north and central Sinai and parts of Egypt's Nile Delta and the Western Desert, along the porous border with Libya.

Sinai has been the epicenter of a years-long Islamic insurgency.