Egypt's Sisi flies home from summit after Sinai attacks

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C), surrounded by top military generals (AFP Photo/-)

Cairo (AFP) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Friday cut short a visit to Ethiopia for a regional summit, returning home to deal with a wave of deadly militant attacks, his office said.

At least 26 people, mostly soldiers, were killed on Thursday when militants fired rockets and set off a car bomb in North Sinai province in simultaneous assaults claimed by an affiliate of the Islamic State group.

"After the terrorist operations in the North Sinai last night, the president decided to cut short his participation in the African Union summit after attending the opening session, and returned to Cairo to monitor the situation," an official statement said.

The bloodshed came despite a series of security measures implemented by the authorities in North Sinai since an attack in October killed 30 soldiers and wounded scores.

Jihadists have regularly targeted security forces in the Sinai Peninsula since Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by then army chief Sisi in July 2013.

The militants say the attacks are in retaliation for a government crackdown against Morsi supporters in which hundreds have been killed, thousands jailed and dozens sentenced to death.