Middle East

Sinai checkpoint car bomb kills eight Egyptian soldiers

Members of the Egyptian armed forces in armoured vehicles patrolling a street near the town of Sheikh Zuweid, in the northern Sinai peninsula (13 July 2015) Image copyright EPA
Image caption North Sinai has had a military presence and a declared state of emergency since October 2014

Eight Egyptian soldiers have been killed in a car bomb attack on a checkpoint in the country's North Sinai region, an army spokesperson said.

Three attackers were killed, and the remainder fled after the Thursday evening assault, he said.

At least another 12 troops were injured in the ambush.

Egypt has been fighting Islamic militants in the region for several years, but no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

An earlier report from Reuters news agency, citing security sources, said assailants fired two rocket-propelled grenades at a checkpoint near the city of El-Arish, before masked men opened fire.

That report said three policemen had been killed.

It is not yet clear if the conflicting reports refer to the same attack, or separate incidents.

Islamist groups are thought to have carried out more than 400 attacks in the North Sinai region between 2012 and 2015.

The Sinai Province jihadist group, the most active insurgents, also swore an oath of loyalty to so-called Islamic State (IS) in November 2014.

It was initially called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem), and has been active in the Sinai Peninsula since 2011.

It has an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 active members.

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