The attack marks the first time during a two year insurgency in the Sinai peninsula that the jihadists have struck at sea. The vessel caught fire leaving the crew to scramble overboard to safety.
An “Islamic State” affiliate said on Thursday that it wrecked an Egyptian navy vessel anchored off the Sinai peninsula's Mediterranean coast.
"The Sinai Province” group, said to be most lethal militant faction operating in Egypt, fired a rocket at what they described as a navy frigate, near the coast of Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Photos posted on Social Media appeared to show a missile hit the ship, setting it ablaze. DW is unable to independently verify the images.
Egypt's military confirmed the attack, saying that a coastguard launch had exchanged shots with “terrorist elements” and that the vessel caught fire. Officials said there was no loss of life.
Witnesses in Gaza told the Reuters news agency that they heard explosions and gunfire coming from a direction of the sea.
Another bystander told the Associated Press that the vessel was an Egyptian gunboat, situated about a nautical mile off the coast.
The attack happened off the coast of Rafa, close to the border between Egypt's Sinai peninsula and Gaza.
Egyptian security officials said several crew members suffered injuries and that the fire forced many of them to scramble overboard. They were picked up by other navy vessels.
Until now, "The Sinai Province" has focused on land-based targets in the northern part of Sinai bordering Gaza and Israel.
The group is one of multiple jihadist factions which have targeted the Sinai region over the past two years. Earlier in the month, DW's Kirsten McTighe reported on the growing influence of "Islamic State" and its affiliates in Sinai.
On July 1, militants killed at least 17 soldiers in an attack on the peninsula, scores of insurgents were also killed in the subsequent fighting.
mm/jil (AP, Reuters)