Sinai blast wounds 20 Egyptian policemen

An Egyptian armored vehicle patrols the area on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border of the southern Gaza Strip on July 2, 2015 (AFP Photo/Said Khatib) (AFP/File)

Cairo (AFP) - A roadside bomb blast wounded 20 Egyptian policemen on Thursday as they travelled in a bus in northern Sinai where militants have launched deadly attacks against security forces, officials said.

The military is fighting an Islamist insurgency in North Sinai, which grew since the 2013 ouster of president Mohamed Morsi by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Thursday's attack on the outskirts of North Sinai's provincial capital of El-Arish targeted a bus carrying policemen who were on leave, medics and security officials said.

The bomb was detonated by remote control, security officials said.

The 20 policemen and a civilian were wounded in the blast, health ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar said, adding that three of the wounded were in serious condition.

In a separate incident on Thursday morning, gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a police captain near his home in the Nile Delta town of Beni Sueif, south of Cairo, police said.

North Sinai is a bastion of a jihadist group calling itself "Sinai Province". Formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, it changed its name when it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in November.

On July 1, the group carried out a series of attacks on security forces in the town of Sheikh Zuweid in the Sinai. The military said 21 soldiers were killed in those attacks, after several media outlets reported higher tolls from security officials.

The jihadists say their attacks are in response to a crackdown launched by the authorities after Morsi's ouster which has seen at least 1,400 people killed and thousands more jailed.