CAIRO: At least 23 Egyptian soldiers were killed when two suicide car bombs tore through army checkpoints in North Sinai province on Friday, security sources said, one of the bloodiest assaults on security forces for months.
Militants are waging an insurgency in the rugged, thinly populated Sinai Peninsula and have killed hundreds of soldiers and police since 2013, when the military ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule.
The Sinai militants pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2014 and adopted the name Sinai Province. The two cars blew up as they passed through two checkpoints close to each other on a road outside Rafah, on the border with the Gaza Strip, the security sources said. No group claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The security sources said another 26 soldiers were injured in Friday’s attacks. The military put the casualties lower, and said the attacks had killed and injured a total of 26 soldiers, but did not provide a breakdown of the figure. Within hours of the bombings security forces carried out a counter-attack and killed 40 militants suspected of involvement in the suicide bombings and destroyed six of their vehicles, according to a military statement.
The military posted photos of five dead militants in bloodsoaked fatigues lying in the sand. It did not name the militants’ suspected affiliation.
“Law enforcement forces in North Sinai succeeded in thwarting a terrorist attack on some checkpoints south of Rafah,” a military statement said.