Egypt has indefinitely shut schools in two border towns in northern Sinai as the army prepares to intensify a battle with Islamist militants that turned the daily trip to lessons into a “journey of death”.

Local people say children’s education has fallen victim while the military stages air strikes against jihadists, who are targeting soldiers and police, and have started beheading army informers.

“We are putting our lives at risk on a daily basis,” said Mohamed, a teacher who lives in the town of Sheikh Zuweid. “Sometimes there is fire between gunmen and the armed forces and sometimes stray bullets hit some of us.” […]