Death Toll Rises in “Ongoing” Sinai “Clashes” – Army Spokesman

The death toll from “clashes” between security personnel and militants in North Sinai has risen, the armed forces spokesman said, following a string of attacks which targeted security checkpoints and facilities early Wednesday.

Spokesman Mohamed Samir said in a statement security forces killed 17 “terrorists”, yet did not provide the number of security personnel killed.

Twenty-two “terrorists” were killed in clashes which followed an attack by around 70 suspected militants on five security checkpoints, Samir had said in an earlier statement.

Samir had initially reported 10 casualties among security forces “so far”, ranging from deaths to injuries.

Security sources reported to Aswat Masriya a higher number of casualties; at least 30.

Clashes remain ongoing, Samir said.

Armed assailants attacked military checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid with mortar shells and heavy weaponry, police sources said. Security forces were soon to respond, as both sides exchanged fire.

Gunmen also attacked the Sheikh Zuweid Police Station with firearms, sources said, adding that security forces quickly responded, forcing the assailants to retreat.

The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The group said in a statement released on twitter accounts affiliated with it that it targeted over 15 security locations, carrying out three “suicide operations”, as well as other attacks on 13 checkpoints and a police station with heavy and light weaponry.

The militant group claimed it has “gained full control” over several locations, adding that clashes remain ongoing.

Aswat Masriya could not independently verify the authenticity of the statement.

Militancy inside Egypt has seen a significant rise since the military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013, which was prompted by mass protests against his rule. Most attacks occur in North Sinai, targeting security forces. The attacks have left hundreds of security personnel killed.

Attacks have expanded to other parts of the city, including the capital.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is Egypt’s most active militant group, having claimed responsibility for the majority of militant attacks in the peninsula. The group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq last November, changing its name to Sinai Province.