Egypt: 10 Soldiers Killed in Sinai Suicide Bomb
Ten Egyptian soldiers including a high-ranking colonel had been killed and at least 20 injured in a suicide bomb attack on an army checkpoint in northern Sinai, security sources said.
Two vehicles were reportedly detonated while passing a checkpoint in an area between Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid on Friday, when a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into it before dozens of armed militants arrived and started shooting.
No group had claimed responsibility for the attack.
On his official Facebook page, Army spokesman Tamer el-Rifai confirmed the attack and said that 26 army personnel were killed or injured in the attack, without providing a breakdown. He also said the army foiled attacks targeting a number of other checkpoints in southern Rafah and that 40 militants were killed.
Security officials said the militants arrived at the site of the checkpoint - located in a remote, deserted area - in some 24 Land Cruiser SUVs. The militants opened fire on the soldiers with machine guns for nearly half an hour, they said. The force at the compound is estimated at 60 troops.
After the attack, the militants looted the checkpoint, taking weapons and ammunition. It was unclear if they took over armored vehicles as well.
Witnesses said that they saw Apache helicopters carrying out airstrikes across Rafah after the attack.
The area of the attack is a Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for "ISIS" / "ISIL"] stronghold and the location of fierce battles in the spring between the tribesmen and militants. Officials told the AP that some senior officers have voiced opposition to the location of the checkpoint, arguing that it has no real cover.
Over the past months, Isis has focused its attacks on Egypt's Christian minority and carried out at least four deadly attacks that killed dozens, prompting army chief-turned-President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to declare a state of emergency in the country.
But the restive northeastern Sinai has been under a state of emergency since October 2014 after Wahhabi militants killed more than 30 soldiers in a single attack.
Egypt faces an insurgency led by Daesh in North Sinai, where hundreds of soldiers and police had been killed since 2013, when the military ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi after mass protests.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team