At least ten Egyptian soldiers including a colonel were killed in a suicide bomb attack on an army checkpoint in northern Sinai, security sources said.
The attack started when a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into a checkpoint at a military compound in the southern Rafah village of el-Barth, followed by heavy gunfire from dozens of masked fighters on foot, offcials said.
The dead included a high ranking special forces officer, Colonel Ahmed el-Mansi, and at least 20 others were wounded in the attack.
Sirens of ambulances were heard from a distance as they rushed to the site of the attack.
The officials spoke to AP news agency on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to speak to the media.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Egypt in recent years has been battling a stepped-up uprising in northern Sinai, mainly by fighters from a group affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
Over the past months, ISIL has focused its attacks on Egypt’s Christian minority and carried out at least four deadly attacks that killed dozens, prompting army chief-turned-President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to declare a state of emergency in the country.
The Sinai branch of ISIL appears to be the most resilient outside Syria and Iraq, where the so-called caliphate is witnessing its demise.
The group’s offshoot in Libya has been uprooted in months-long battles in the central city of Sirte while its branch in Yemen has failed to seize territories or compete with its al-Qaeda rivals.