At least 30 people were killed when Islamist militants attacked several checkpoints in Egypt’s North Sinai on Wednesday, security and medical sources said, in one of the biggest coordinated assaults yet in the insurgency-hit province.
Militants fired mortar rounds on five Egyptian military checkpoints in North Sinai’s city of Sheikh Zuwied in the early hours of Wednesday.
Another police station was attacked in southern Sheikh Zuwied. Witnesses say they saw Apaches hovering over the city.
Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement on Twitter.
Egypt has been fighting militants who have launched many attacks killed hundreds of police and soldiers in the northern Sinai in recent months.
It was second high-profile action in Egypt this week.
On Monday,Egypt’s prosecutor-general was killed in a car bombing in Cairo, raising questions about the government’s ability to contain the insurgency.
The army said five checkpoints were attacked by about 70 militants and that soldiers had destroyed three landcruisers fitted with anti-aircraft guns.
Security sources said militants were surrounding a police station in the town of Sheikh Zuweid and had planted bombs around it to prevent forces from leaving.
Doctor Osama el-Sayed of El-Arish General Hospital in the provincial capital said 30 bodies had been brought in, “some of whom were wearing army fatigues”.
The exact breakdown of identities of those killed was not immediately clear. Security sources had said at least 20 security personnel were killed and 40 wounded. The army spokesman said 22 of the attackers were killed and 10 soldiers were killed or wounded.
Security sources said the militants had planted bombs along a road between Sheikh Zuweid and an army camp to prevent the movement of any army supplies or reinforcements. Meanwhile, Apache helicopters and F-16 planes strafed the area.