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2 policemen killed, 9 injured in North Sinai road explosion: Interior Ministry
Courtesy: Interior Ministry

Two policemen from Egypt’s Central Security Forces were killed and 9 others were injured in a road-side explosion in North Sinai’s Arish City, the Interior Ministry reported in a statement on Saturday night.

The attack followed two police operations on Saturday that reportedly resulted in the deaths of 16 militants — 14 when security forces raided a militant training camp in Ismailia governorate near Sinai, and two more on the outskirts of Greater Cairo, after the militants reportedly fired at police from a motorbike on the Dahshour-6th of October road.

The two killed in Cairo were members of militant group Hassm, according to the Interior Ministry, following a claim by Hassm that they assassinated Ibrahim Azazy, a National Security Agency officer in Qaluybiya governorate on Friday.

“As part of ministry efforts to trace runaway militants involved in recent attacks in North Sinai that target both Armed Forces and police forces, we have received intelligence that North Sinai militants are preparing new recruits from all over the country in a training camp in Ismailia,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Friday also saw one of the deadliest attacks in years in the North Sinai city of Rafah, reportedly killing at least 23 Armed Forces soldiers and injuring many others. The attack, claimed by the Islamic State, was immediately followed by military airstrikes that killed at least 40 militants, according to a statement by the Armed Forces’ spokesperson.

On Saturday, the Armed Forces conducted a second airstrike on several vehicles thought to belong to the militants. The military also published a video stating that the operation was ongoing for a second day.

There has been an increase in militant attacks targeting both the police and Armed Forces in North Sinai since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, many of which have been carried out by the Islamic State and its affiliate the Province of Sinai.

The largest attack took place in mid-2015, when the Province of Sinai targeted several military sites and checkpoints in the North Sinai cities of Sheikh Zuwayed and Rafah. At least 17 soldiers and an estimated 100 militants were killed in the attacks and ensuing violence, according to the military, while other sources claimed a much higher death toll.

The attacks that spread to the Delta have also affected and targeted Coptic civilians, these were mostly claimed by the Islamic State and its affiliate Province of Sinai, while Hassm claims to only target security forces.