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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Seven civilians killed in blast in north Sinai

Egypt's army has been fighting a local ISIL affiliate in the northern Sinai. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack 

Egyptian schoolgirls pass by a sign in Arabic reading "no passing, will open the fire’’  in Arish in the Sinai peninsula on November 17, 2014.  AFP
Egyptian schoolgirls pass by a sign in Arabic reading "no passing, will open the fire’’ in Arish in the Sinai peninsula on November 17, 2014. AFP

Seven people, including two children, were killed when a car bomb exploded near a military checkpoint close to the city of Arish in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt’s army said.

“The explosion was very big, which indicates that the [vehicle] was carrying around 100 kilograms of explosive material,” the army said on Monday. “Three men, two women, and two children were killed.

“The booby-trapped vehicle was targeting the checkpoint when it was intercepted by an army tank … whose driver ran over the car in [an] attempt to contain the blast.”

Video footage of the incident showed that a number of civilian cars and commercial trucks were lined up to go through the checkpoint when the attack took place.

The military said that if the gunmen had been able to reach their target, at least 50 to 60 soldiers and civilians would have been killed.

The 4x4 vehicle exploded after the tank drove away, killing seven civilians. The army added that four armed men were in the car.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident.

The Egyptian army has been fighting a local ISIL affiliate in northern Sinai, where hundreds of security forces have been killed.

ISIL has targeted Christians — who make up around 10 per cent of the population — in various parts the country, including in Cairo, killing dozens.

The militants have repeatedly said that they intend to carry out more attacks on Christians.

In 2015, ISIL bombed a Russian airliner carrying passengers from a South Sinai resort, killing all 224 people on board and severely damaging Egypt’s tourism sector.

An insurgency in the Sinai region has gained pace since the army overthrew president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest Islamist movement, following mass protests against his rule in mid-2013.