Egypt army operation nets militants in Sinai-sources
* Violence has grown in Sinai since Mubarak overthrow
* Egypt says some militants hail from Gaza
* Four suspects caught close to strategic gas pipeline
By Marwa Awad
CAIRO, Aug 16 (Reuters) - An army crackdown on armed groups in Egypt's lawless north Sinai has netted four Islamist militants as they prepared to blow up a gas pipeline in the city of el-Arish, security sources said on Tuesday.
The military operation -- dubbed Operation Eagle -- began this week with the aim of quelling an increase in attacks on security forces in Sinai since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in February.
Sinai's population has a history of resentment towards officials from Cairo, who have struggled to stamp their authority on the desert region bordering Israel.
Those efforts have been hampered partly because of limits on any military build-up there agreed under the 1979 Camp David accord between the two neighbours.
An intelligence official said the initial investigation that prompted Operation Eagle had linked the four militants to an assault on a police station in el-Arish on July 30 in which an army officer, two policemen and three civilians died. Continued...