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Militant attack kills at least 26 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai

July 7, 2017

Gunmen have carried out one of the deadliest attacks in Egypt in two years, attacking a remote army outpost in the Sinai Peninsula with a suicide car bomb. The attackers took weapons and ammunition before fleeing.

Ägypten Grenze zu Gaza - Soldat
Image: Getty Images/AFP/S. Khatib

At least 26 Egyptian troops were killed and 33 wounded in northern Sinai on Friday after militants attacked a security checkpoint with multiple car bombs and gunfire.

Later on Friday the so-called "Islamic State" group claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred south of Rafah near the border with the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The Egyptian army published videos and pictures of counter operations it said killed 40 suspected militants and destroyed six vehicles.

Sinai has been the center of a low-level insurgency since the 2011 Arab Spring protests ousted former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

But attacks have intensified following President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's 2013 overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi and a crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Jihadists claimed allegiance to the so-called "Islamic State" in 2014 and set up a self-styled Sinai Province affiliate.

The insurgency has mainly targeted security forces in the sparsely populated desert  and mountains of Sinai. But over the past year militants have forced many Coptic Christians to flee Sinai and cells have carried out a number of high profile attacks that have killed dozens of Copts in other parts of Egypt.

An April attack claimed by IS that killed at least 45 Copts prompted Sisi to declare a nationwide state of emergency similar to one that was already in place in North Sinai.

cw/ng (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)