Egypt's military claims that 100 "terrorists" and 17 of its soldiers were killed in Wednesday's brazen attack by Sinai IS affiliates. In Cairo, police have killed nine fugitive members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Discrepancies remained early Thursday in casualty figures from unprecedented jihadist attacks on security outposts in Sheikh Zuweid, a town in northern Sinai, as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's cabinet vowed adoption of tougher laws.
Wednesday's raid on the outlawed Brotherhood in Cairo followed the assassination of Egypt's chief prosecutor General Hisham Barakat on Monday.
Minister of Transitional Justice Ibrahim Henaidy told the al-Ahram newspaper that the new law would stipulate "harsher punishment," widen powers for investigators, including scrutiny of suspects' bank accounts, and accelerated appeal court procedures.
Withdrawal after eight hours
From Sinai, medical and security sources quoted by AFP said at least 70 people had been killed, alongside dozens of jihadists, during Wednesday's attacks that began at dawn.
Officials said the militants withdrew from Sheikh Zuweid after eight hours.
The military's count broadcast on Egyptian state television was disputed by the privately owned newspaper al-Shorouk. It said at least 64 army and police personnel had been killed.
Unspecified civilian casualties were reported but could not be verified as clashes continued into Wednesday night.
'Under control,' says army
Army spokesman Mohamed Sanir claimed during a phone call with state television late Wednesday that the situation in the town had been brought "100 percent under control."
Sinai's main insurgent group, calling itself Sinai Province, which last year pledged allegiance the" Islamic State" group active in Syria and Iraq, said it had attacked 15 positions in Sheikh Zuweid, using heavy weapons such as rockets.
The militants besieged the town's main police station and said they had staged three suicide bombings and targeted an officers' club in the nearby city of al-Arish.
Egypt's military said it struck back using helicopter gunships and F-16 warplanes.
Military spokesman, General Mohammed Samir, said the army later targeted two militant gatherings in northern Sinai.
Daniel Nisman of the risk consultancy Levantine Group told Associated Press that Wednesday's jihadist attack was "by far the worst we've ever seen" in Egypt.
"It's not hit-and-run - this is what they used in places like Syria and Iraq to actually capture and hold territory," Nisman said.
Egypt's interior ministry said late Wednesday's raid on a Cairo apartment by special commandos resulted in the killing of nine fugitive members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, including Nasser al-Hafi.
He was a former member of parliament, before the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi by the military in 2013.
The Brotherhood responded to the apartment raid by saying the nine were "murdered in cold blood" and warning that it would have its "own repercussions.
Since Morsi's ouster, Egypt's army-led government has arrested thousands of Islamists and other dissidents and overseen the conviction of hundreds at collective trials.
Morsi is among those given a death sentence, but an appeals process remains ahead of him.
ipj/gsw (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)