At least five Egyptian soldiers have been killed in two militant ambushes in the volatile North Sinai region, a bastion of a burgeoning Islamist insurgency, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.
Thirteen other security personnel were wounded in the simultaneous attacks that targeted two checkpoints in the town of Sheikh Zuweid and near the provincial capital of Al-Arish early on Thursday, security sources said.
The injured were ferried to a military hospital in Al-Arish.
Fifteen gunmen were also killed in a firefight with security forces during the assaults, the sources added.
Apache helicopters roared above 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.
Egypt’s army has struggled to crush an Islamist insurrection based in the northern part of Sinai Peninsula, which has heightened since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The violence has mainly targeted security forces, killing hundreds in the past 19 months.
Late in January, simultaneous attacks by jihadist fighters targeted security forces with rockets and car bombs in Al-Arish, killing at least 30, including civilians.
The violence was the deadliest since Islamist militants killed 31 soldiers and wounded tens of others in October 2014 in northern Sinai, which adjoins Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
Both assaults 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.
Source: Ahram Online