Bombs kill two in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula
CAIRO // Two bombings in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula killed a civilian and an army officer on Tuesday as an militant insurgency showed no signs of easing.
The rugged peninsula is the base of the ISIL group’s Egyptian affiliate, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem), which has claimed the majority of attacks on the security forces in the region.
In the first attack, a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into the police base in North Sinai’s provincial capital of El Arish, killing one civilian.
Two civilians and 30 police were also wounded in the attack, which came just minutes after a nighttime curfew was lifted at 6am local time (8am UAE time).
“The bomber drove a water tanker filled with explosives into the rear gate of the base,” a security official said.
“As the vehicle approached, police fired on it, detonating the explosives inside.”
Interior ministry spokesman Hani Abdel Latif said the death toll could have been much higher but for the swift reaction of the guards on the gate.
“The security forces dealt with the vehicle near the checkpoint of the base which saved a lot of lives,” Mr Abdel Latif said.
“The wounded policemen suffered only minor injuries from shattered glass.”
An army captain was killed and two other soldiers wounded in the second attack when a roadside bomb blew up as they pursued militants south of El Arish.
The bombings came a day after three Egyptian soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb east of the city.
El Arish has seen repeated deadly attacks on security forces.
In January, at least 24 people were killed in the city after a combined rocket and car bomb attack on a military base, a nearby police headquarters and a residential complex for army and police officers.
Most of those killed in that attack were soldiers.
The nighttime curfew is among a raft of security measures that have been in force in North Sinai since a late October attack on a military base near the city killed 30 soldiers.
The army has also been clearing a buffer zone along the province’s border with the Gaza Strip to prevent militants infiltrating from Palestinian territory.
Militants have intensified their attacks on the security forces in the Sinai since the army overthrew former president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.
They say their campaign of violence is in retaliation for a government crackdown on Morsi’s supporters that has killed hundreds and placed thousands behind bars.
The army reports daily clashes with the militants in North Sinai.
Late last year, Washington delivered 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt to boost its campaign against the Sinai militants.
* Agence France-Presse