At least 12 troops were killed and six others wounded during an armed assault on a security checkpoint by unidentified assailants. The incident has been described as the largest attack on security forces in central Sinai.
According to an official statement on the website of military spokesperson Brigadier General Mohamed Samir, “terrorist elements” attacked the checkpoint on Friday morning using four-wheel drives. He stated that the ensuing firefight “resulted in the martyrdom of 12, along with the injury of six other heroes of the armed forces.”
Samir also claimed that security forces “succeeded in killing 15 of the militants, while injuring a number of others,” adding that troops are currently combing the surrounding area in search of the attackers.
However, he did not specify the exact location of the attack.
Citing medical and security sources, Reuters news agency reported that the incident took place in the North Sinai governorate 40 kilometers from the town of Bir al-Abd, located near central Sinai. The sources also claimed that a total of eight troops were injured.
According to Reuters the incident was “the first major attack in the central Sinai area, which had so far escaped a campaign of Islamist attacks.”
An anonymous security source told the news agency that the attack involved “assault rifles and some heavier weapons.” The eight injured security forces were reportedly rushed to hospitals in Arish
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, however Reuters reported that the individuals involved were “suspected Islamic State gunmen.
Elements which claim allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are known as “Welayet Sinai” (Sinai Province), previously known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdes, and are among the most active in targeting police and armed forces in North Sinai.
Since the military-backed ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, radical armed groups in the area have ramped up their attacks targeting troops. Security forces have also been conducting counter-terrorism operations across the region.
These incidents have claimed the lives of hundreds over the past years, including security forces, military conscripts, militant elements and civilians.