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Car bombs in Sinai hit Egyptian military

Twin car bomb explosions in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula have killed at least six soldiers, according to officials. The military has been intensifying its campaign in the restive region as it combats Islamist militants.

The bombs detonated near military units in and around the border town of Rafah on Wednesday, the military said in a statement. The first blast reportedly targeted a military intelligence headquarters in the town, while a second explosion hit a nearby army checkpoint.

"Islamist terrorist elements carried out a treacherous attack using two cars loaded with a large quantity of explosives … that left six soldiers dead and 17 people injured," military spokesman Ahmed Aly said in a statement.

Seven civilians were among the injured in the attacks. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Militant violence has increased in Rafah, which lies on the border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip, since President Mohamed Morsi was removed and detained by Egypt's military in July.

Wednesday's violence comes less than a week after a car bomb assassination attempt on Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim in Cairo. Targeted as he left his home in the east of the city, he escaped unharmed but the area was badly damaged in the blast. The Sinai-based Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis took credit for the attack.

The organization has vowed to continue its fight against the government in response to its crackdown on Islamists in Egypt.

Earlier this week the army launched a major offensive against Islamist militants in the northern region of Sinai. Five days of military operations have thus far killed at least 29 suspected militants.

dr/ipj (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)