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12.04.2015 Egypt

Six Egypt troops slain in Sinai blast claimed by jihadists

The Egyptian military has poured troops and armour into the Sinai peninsula.  By  (AFP/File)
LISTEN APR 12, 2015
The Egyptian military has poured troops and armour into the Sinai peninsula. By (AFP/File)

Cairo (AFP) - A bomb attack on an armoured vehicle of the Egyptian army killed six soldiers and wounded two in the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday, the military said.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, claimed responsibility for the attack near the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid, a jihadist stronghold.

"An armoured personnel carrier for the army of the apostates was destroyed ...killing and wounding all aboard," the Egyptian militant group said on a Twitter account attributed to it.

The military said six soldiers were killed.

"Their vehicle was targeted by an explosive device placed by the extremist terrorist elements which left an officer, a sergeant, and four soldiers martyred, and two other soldiers wounded," it said on its Facebook page.

The army has sent troops and armour to fight a dogged insurgency in the Sinai that has grown since then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted his Islamist predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, in July 2013.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis says its repeated attacks on the security forces are in retaliation for a government crackdown on Morsi's supporters that has left hundreds dead.

Thousands more have been imprisoned and dozens sentenced to death.

Sunday's attack came a day after a Cairo court confirmed death sentences against Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and 13 others for protest violence.

Jihadist attacks on the peninsula have left scores of soldiers and policemen dead.

On April 2, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis militants launched simultaneous attacks on five checkpoints in the region that killed 15 soldiers and two civilians.

In January, a combined rocket and car bomb attack on a military base, a nearby police headquarters and a residential complex for army and police officers killed at least 24 people in North Sinai, most of them soldiers.

The attacks came despite stringent security measures imposed by the army in the province.

After a late October attack on a military base near El-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, the army imposed a night-time curfew and state of emergency in parts of the region.

The army has also established a buffer zone along the province's border with the Gaza Strip to prevent militants infiltrating from Palestinian territory.

Egypt, which is battling an insurgency in its east in Sinai, is also facing a threat on its western border from a chaotic Libya where the influence of IS is growing.

Arab leaders agreed at a summit in March to form a joint military force to fight "terrorist groups" in the region, after Sisi insisted for months on the creation of such a move to contain of IS.

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