23 Egyptian soldiers killed fending off major coordinated assault claimed by ISIS
At least 33 others were wounded in the major militant assault on an Egyptian army checkpoint near Rafah Friday, according to the latest figures reported by AP.
The attack in North Sinai started with at least one suicide bomber ramming a vehicle into the army’s outpost which had roughly 60 soldiers.
Immediately after the security perimeter of the outpost was breached, a small army of jihadists traveling in 24 Land Cruiser SUVs, and armed with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, descended on the Egyptian armed forces, Reuters reported citing security officials.
In a battle that reportedly lasted roughly half an hour, the militants allegedly managed to loot some weapons and ammunition before fleeing, officials familiar with the matter told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The Egyptian military succeeded in taking down dozens of militants despite their heavy losses.
“Security forces in North Sinai have successfully foiled a terrorist assault on some checkpoints south of Rafah, killing 40 militants,” the army said in a statement, Ahram online reported.
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed the responsibility for the deadly assault, claiming that two suicide car bombers initiated the attack while jihadists who were willing to die engaged the troops. The terrorist group claimed the attack was launched just prior to the start of the Egyptian army’s operation against the terrorists in the region.
The Sinai province – which is located in Egypt’s remote desert region and borders the Gaza Strip, Israel, and the Suez Canal – has been confronted by an Islamist insurgency which has claimed the lives of hundreds of security officers in the region. Terrorists have battled the Egyptian army for years but have intensified their attacks following the ousting of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.