Seven soldiers and an equal number of militants have been killed in Egypt's volatile region on the border with the Gaza Strip. A group loyal to "Islamic State" is thought to be behind the attacks.
At least seven Egyptian soldiers were killed on Thursday in attacks by suspected militants in the country's increasingly restive Sinai Peninsula, officials said. Eight others were wounded in the apparently synchronized attacks, and the ensuing clashes with security forces claimed the lives of at least seven assailants as well.
Gunmen opened fire on the soldiers at security checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, the crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. A third attack took place in northern Sinai, but the police did not specify where.
No group immediately claimed responsibility, but jihadists who pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group last year have carried out similar operations in the region. Sinai-based militants have killed hundreds of soldiers and police since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 following massive protests against his rule.
This insurgency has spread to other parts of Egypt, though attacks in bigger cities and towns are usually far less dramatic.
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has spearheaded an Arab initiative to create a joint regional military force to confront the growing security threats posed by militants. Sisi has repeatedly cited the deteriorating situation in neighboring Libya as a significant security threat to his country.
es/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)