Six killed in two blasts near army sites in Egypt's Sinai

CAIRO Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:58am EDT

1 of 6. The wreckage of a burnt car is seen after assaults on militant targets by the Egyptian Army, in a village on the outskirts of Sheikh Zuweid, near the city of El-Arish in Egypt's Sinai peninsula September 10, 2013. Egypt has tightened control of crossings from the Sinai peninsula and continued assaults on militants after an Islamist group based there said it tried to kill the interior minister in Cairo last week, the state news agency reported on Monday.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Six Egyptian army officers were killed on Wednesday in two car bomb explosions near military units in the Sinai Peninsula, close to the border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip, a military statement said.

Another 10 military officers and seven civilians were wounded in the attacks in the border town of Rafah, also close to Israel, in an area of North Sinai that has seen a sharp rise in militant attacks since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July.

An earlier report by state TV said rocket-propelled grenades had been fired at a military facility in Sinai. It was not clear if this was a separate attack. Witnesses said they heard explosions and saw clashes between militants and troops in the area.

The Sinai-based Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for an attempt last week to kill the Egyptian interior minister in Cairo and promised more attacks in revenge for the new army-backed government's crackdown on Egypt's Islamists.

The army launched an offensive against Islamist militants near Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai this week. The troops deployed dozens of tanks as well as armored vehicles and attack helicopters, killing or wounding at least 30 people and arresting nine suspects, according to security officials.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh, Yusri Mohamed and Ali Abdelatty; Writing by Michael Georgy and Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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