Egyptian officials: Roadside bombing in Sinai kills 2 police

ASHRAF SWEILAM

EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — A roadside bomb went off Friday in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula, killing two members of the country's security forces and wounding five, security and medical officials said.

According to the officials, the security forces were patrolling in the town of Bir al-Abd when their armored vehicle was hit by a remotely-detonated bomb. The wounded were transferred to a military hospital in Sinai's coastal city of El-Arish. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the attacks with the media.

Friday’s bombing was the second in the past three days. On Wednesday, one member of the security forces was killed and three were wounded in a roadside bombing in a village near Rafah, a town on the border with the Gaza Strip.

There was no clear claim of responsibility for Friday's attack, but the Islamic State group posted a statement on Friday, saying it was behind Wednesday's bombing and three other recent attacks. The claims could not be independently verified.

Egypt has been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency in Sinai that intensified after the military overthrew an Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, in 2013. The militants have carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and minority Christians.

The conflict has largely taken place out of the public arena, with journalists and outside observers barred from the area. So far, the fighting has not expanded to the southern end of the peninsula, where popular Red Sea tourist resorts are located.

But in 2015, an Islamic State bombing brought down over Sinai a Russian passenger plane that had departed from the resort Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.

In February 2018, the Egyptian military launched a massive operation in Sinai and also in parts of the Nile Delta region and the desert along the country’s western border with Libya. Since then, the pace of IS attacks has diminished.