At least 30 soldiers were killed after suspected Islamist militants attacked five military posts in Egypt’s North Sinai area on Wednesday, security sources and witnesses said.
Egypt’s military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir, says fighting is still underway in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, where militants unleashed a wave of attacks targeting the military on Wednesday morning, hitting army checkpoints, including one with a suicide car bombing.
However, Samir also said that only 10 soldiers were killed in the attacks, but the conflicting numbers could not immediately be reconciled in these early stages of the aftermath and an ongoing fluid situation on the ground.
Samir added that at least 22 “terrorists” were killed in ensuing clashes.
North Sinai is the epicenter of an insurgency. Militants have launched many attacks killing hundreds of police and soldiers. The most active group is the Islamic State-affiliated Sinai Province.
The group has claimed responsibility for most of the country’s major suicide bombings and assassinations. On Sunday, it released a video of a May attack that killed three judges in the northern Sinai Peninsula city of el-Arish — the group’s main base. The Sinai attack came on the same day as an Egyptian court sentenced ousted President Mohammed Morsi to death over a mass prison break during 2011 uprising that eventually brought him to power.
On Monday, Egypt’s prosecutor general died after sustaining critical wounds in a car bombing that targeted his convoy earlier in the day in a busy upscale Cairo suburb. Nine others were wounded in the first assassination attempt on a top official in two years.
The attack came as Egyptian security forces were already on high alert on the eve of the second anniversary of massive anti-Islamist demonstrations that paved the way, days later, for the military’s ouster of Morsi, an Islamist.