UPDATE: At least 5 dead, 40 injured in Arish Suicidal Bomb

At least five policemen were killed and 40 injured on Sunday when a bomb-laden vehicle exploded at the Third Police Station in North Sinai’s Al-Arish, the Egyptian interior ministry said.

North Sinai’s Al-Arish has become a common target for militants in the restive peninsula.

Health ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel-Ghafar told Ahram Online at least 40 were injured, saying final death and injury tolls have yet to be announced, with counting still ongoing.

According to medical and security sources spoke to Al-Masry Al-Youm, the injury tolls so far have reached 45, including 25 civilians.

On a statement on its Facebook page, the interior ministry said a “suicide bomber” sought to ram a van laden with explosives into a checkpoint in the vicinity of the police station. The vehicle exploded when Police forces opened fire at it.

Both policemen and civilians were injured in the blast, the statement added.

An exchange of gunfire and ambulances were heard following the huge explosion, which reportedly created a large crater and shattered house windows near the police station.

The militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came hours after another operation that they also claimed.

A first lieutenant, a sergeant and four conscripts were killed earlier on Sunday when their armoured vehicle was attacked on the highway from Al-Arish to Sheikh Zuweid, North Sinai. Two other soldiers were injured and taken to the Arish military hospital.

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed many attacks against the army and police in Sinai.

Last Friday, the group, which has pledge allegiance to Islamic State militant group, published a graphic video showing the execution of a 20-year-old soldier kidnapped during the group’s 3-April attack on security checkpoints that killed 15 soldiers.

The video also included the beheading of a local man from Sinai for allegedly collaborating with Israeli spy agency Mossad.

Egypt’s army has been fighting a decade-long militant Islamist insurgency, which has spiked since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in summer 2013.

Hundreds of police and soldiers, as well as civilians, have been killed in militant attacks in the past months.

Source: Ahram Online & Al-Masry Al-Youm