Four police personnel were killed and 10 were injured in an armed attack at a police checkpoint on the Arish-Qantara International Road on Saturday, according to a security source who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity.
The source told Mada Masr that the attack took place on Saturday morning when an unspecified number of assailants in four-wheel drive vehicles launched rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) toward the Kilo 17 checkpoint from the Arish-Qantara International Road, targeting surveillance towers located in front of the checkpoint. Under the cover of heavy gunfire coming from the vehicles, several militants wearing explosive belts also attempted to enter the checkpoint.
Several police conscripts, as well as a police captain, were killed and injured in the attack, the source added, reporting that some of the injured police personnel are currently in critical condition.
Police forces responded to the attack by killing four of the armed militants, according to security sources who spoke to Sky News Arabia. Local media outlets also reported that four militants were killed and two more were injured, publishing photos of the bodies.
Egypt’s Interior Ministry has yet to release a statement regarding the incident. No militant group known to be operating in North Sinai has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Kilo 17, one of several fortified security structures in North Sinai, is located on a raised area of land and equipped with surveillance towers and cameras. The checkpoint was established in 2017 after recurring incidents on the international road leading from Arish to Qantara, including the planting of improvised explosive devices and the bombing of police and Armed Forces vehicles.
The area west of Arish, where Kilo 17 is located, has seen an increase in the activity of the Islamic State-affiliated Province of Sinai. During the past few months, the Province of Sinai has established checkpoints on the international road and killed several members of Egypt’s security forces.
In June 2017, security forces foiled an attempted attack on Kilo 17, destroying a car rigged with explosives before it reached the checkpoint, according to an Interior Ministry security official who spoke to the privately owned Saudi news channel Al-Arabiya.
Local civilian sources, speaking to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, note that fighter jets have been flying continuously over the cities of Arish, Sheikh Zuwayed, and Rafah since Monday. Airstrikes have targeted areas in southern Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed for several days, the sources added.
The Islamic State has issued several statements since August 19 through its media arm, the Amaq News Agency, claiming that the Province of Sinai has recently carried out a number of armed operations in North Sinai, including bombing military and police vehicles in the cities of Rafah, Sheikh Zuwayed and Central Sinai.
The Province of Sinai has claimed responsibility for a car bomb near the Arish airport, to the south of the city. It has also published an obituary for one of their fighters, known as Abu al-Hassan al-Maqdisi. Maqdisi is a name used by Province of Sinai to identify their Palestinian members.