Thursday, April 2, 2015
Islamists kill at least 15 soldiers and 2 civilians in northern Sinai
Egyptian security forces in the northern Sinai (Getty Images)
Ambushes by armed men in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula have killed at least 15 soldiers and two civilians, according to Egyptian security and medical officials. The attacks early on Thursday, that also wounded at least 19 other soldiers and several more civilians, came as Egypt continues its battle against armed groups operating in the northern Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Gunmen opened fire on soldiers with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at five separate checkpoints throughout the northern Sinai region including near Sheikh Zuweid, east of the provincial capital of al-Arish, the Agence France-Press news agency reported.
Egyptian military reports also allege that at least 15 armed men were also killed by the military forces during the attacks, but the toll could not be verified by medics. It was the deadliest attack in Sinai since suicide car bombers and gunmen killed several dozen soldiers at a military base in al-Arish in January.
Military operations are ongoing in Rafah, North Sinai in response to ambushes on Thursday morning, army spokesperson Mohamed Samir has told Ahram Online. Apache helicopters searched in the northern area in search of perpetrators of the attacks which carry the hallmark of Islamist militants allied with the ultra-hardline Islamic State group.
Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 the violence in the Sinia has mainly targeted security forces, killing hundreds in the past 19 months. Late in January, simultaneous attacks by jihadist fighters killed at least 30, including civilians in El-Arish. In October Islamist militants killed 31 soldiers and wounded tens of others in northern Sinai. Both assaultsm which were the deadliest, were claimed by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, Egypt’s most active militant group which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group late last year.