Pos­si­ble IS ji­hadists kill 17 in Si­nai

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ji­hadists in Egypt’s Si­nai killed 15 sol­diers and two civil­ians in at­tacks on check­points on Thurs­day, se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said, the dead­li­est in months de­spite a mas­sive army cam­paign against the in­sur­gents.

The gun­men, be­lieved to be mem­bers of the Is­lamic State (IS) group’s Egypt branch, si­mul­ta­ne­ously opened fire with as­sault ri­fles and grenade launch­ers at five check­points in the restive north of the penin­sula, the se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said.

Medics con­firmed 15 sol­diers and two civil­ians were killed in the at­tacks.

Mil­i­tary sources said 15 mil­i­tants also died in an ex­change of fire but the toll could not be ver­i­fied by medics.

It was the dead­li­est attack in Si­nai since sui­cide car bombers and gun­men killed more than 30 sol­diers at a mil­i­tary base in North Si­nai’s cap­i­tal El-Ar­ish in Jan­uary, prompt­ing Egypt’s pres­i­dent to shakeup the mil­i­tary com­mand.

The army has since claimed it killed more than 170 mil­i­tants in air strikes and am­bushes.

Thurs­day’s at­tacks sug­gested the ji­hadists were still ca­pa­ble of con­duct­ing large scale at­tacks in broad day­light de­spite a mas­sive army de­ploy­ment.

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent, a mor­tar shell fell on a house east of El-Ar­ish, wound­ing three civil­ians, po­lice and health of­fi­cials said.

An­sar Beit al-Maqdis — Par­ti­sans of Jerusalem in English — changed its name last year to the Si­nai Prov­ince af­ter pledg­ing al­le­giance to IS, which con­trols ter­ri­tory in Iraq and Syria.

The group, which has claimed sev­eral so­phis­ti­cated at­tacks in Si­nai and the Nile val­ley, now wants to es­tab­lish a prov­ince of the self­de­clared IS “caliphate.”

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