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Egyptian army: 2 troops killed in militant attack in Sinai

Egyptian army: 2 troops killed in militant attack in Sinai

CAIRO (AP) — The Egyptian armed forces said an Islamic militant attack in northern Sinai killed two of its troops and wounded four others on Tuesday.

The statement said the military thwarted the assault on a security checkpoint in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, near the small town of Bir al-Abd.

Egyptian armed forces, backed by airpower, killed 18 suspected Islamic militants, including one wearing an explosive belt, it said, and destroyed four vehicles, three which were loaded with explosives, apparently before they could detonate.

Authorities heavily restrict access to the northern Sinai, making it difficult to verify claims related to the fighting.

The official statement provided scant detail on the scale of the militant attack. The military also released graphic images of the airstrikes’ aftermath, showing burned and bloodied bodies of suspected militants.

Videos posted on social media showed live explosions, billowing smoke and the pounding of mortar shells in what appeared to be populated neighborhoods.

The private Sinai University posted a message on Facebook saying that students stranded because of various roadblocks would be able to sleep in a designated dorm building at the university's expense.

For over a decade, the Egyptian military has been battling an insurgency in northern Sinai now led by an Islamic State affiliate. The fighting intensified after the military's 2013 overthrow of elected Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi, amid mass protests against his rule.

The duty town of Bir al-Abd, some 40 km (25 miles) from the North Sinai provincial capital of el-Arish, has long been racked by violent conflict. The deadliest attack by Islamic extremists in Egypt's modern history took place at mosque in the area in 2017, killing over 300 people.

Most extremist attacks in Egypt have occurred in marginalized north Sinai, but militants have also struck at police officers, troops and other high-profile targets in the mainland.