x

Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Egypt's ISIL affiliate kills 10 people in Sinai convoy attack

Lieutenant colonel among the dead in ambush near the town of Nakhl, officials say

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi visit a police officer who was wounded in a militant attack in the Western Desert on October 21, 2017.  The Egyptian Presidency via Reuters
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi visit a police officer who was wounded in a militant attack in the Western Desert on October 21, 2017. The Egyptian Presidency via Reuters

Militants from an ISIL affiliate ambushed a convoy of cement trucks from an army factory in the central Sinai Peninsula on Thursday night, killing eight civilian employees and two soldiers, security officials said.

Lt Col Ibrahim Hussein Mohammed was one of the soldiers killed in the attack near the town of Nakhl, the officials said. The militants, from the group formerly known as Ansar Beit Al Maqdis, stole the men's weapons and burnt seven trucks.

ISIL did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack.

Security forces have been battling militants in northern Sinai for years in an insurgency that picked up after the 2013 military ouster of an elected but divisive Islamist president.

Egypt is also facing a growing number of attacks by militants in its Western Desert, the latest of which killed 16 policemen according to an official tally issued by the interior ministry. Security officials, however, have told journalists that dozens more, including high-ranking counterterrorism officers, perished in the October 21 attack some 135 kilometres south-west of Cairo.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi says ISIL militants are making their way to his country via Libya after the defeat of the extremist group in Syria and Iraq.

The regional turmoil has forced Egypt to build up its military in recent years, spending more than $10 billion (Dh36.7bn) since 2014 on a wide array of weaponry, including French-made Rafale fighter jets and helicopter carriers, MiG-29 fighter jets and assault helicopters from Russia, and submarines from Germany.

Most of the attacks in Sinai take place in a contested north-eastern corner of the peninsula near the Gaza Strip. But army and police raids deeper into the area's central mountains have sparked violence and militant attacks further south.