Egypt says officer, 4 troops killed in fighting in Sinai
CAIRO (AP) — Fighting on Wednesday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula left an officer and four troops dead, the military said, just days after an attack there killed 11 forces.
In a statement, the military’s spokesman said the forces had been killed during a clash with militants, and that it came after airstrikes in recent days. The military claimed that at least seven extremists had been killed in the same bout of fighting.
Two security officials said the clashes took place after militants attacked a checkpoint belonging to the country’s border guards near the city of Rafah, on the country’s Mediterranean coast that borders the Gaza Strip. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to media.
Saturday’s attack, one of the deadliest on Egyptian security forces in recent years, was claimed by the Islamic State group.
Egypt is battling an insurgency in Sinai that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. The extremists have carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and Christians, but the pace has slowed in recent years.
On April 30, suspected militants blew up a natural gas pipeline in Northern Sinai’s town of Bir al-Abd, causing a fire but no casualties.
The military has claimed that insurgents have suffered heavy losses in recent months as security forces, aided by armed tribesmen, intensified their efforts to eliminate them.
The pace of militant attacks in Sinai’s main theater of operations and elsewhere has slowed to a trickle since February 2018, when the military launched a massive operation in Sinai and parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along the country’s western border with Libya.
The fighting in Sinai has largely taken place hidden from the public eye, with journalists, non-residents and outside observers barred from the area. The conflict has also been kept at a distance from tourist resorts at the southern end of the peninsula.
By ASHRAF SWEILAM