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Cairo(AFP): At least 60 Egyptian soldiers were on Wednesday killed as militants launched simultaneous attacks on army checkpoints, using suicide bombers and heavy weapons, in the restive north of the Sinai Peninsula, officials said.
Islamic State’s Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, claimed responsibility on Wednesday for attacks against security forces in North Sinai, according to a statement on Twitter.
The group said it had attacked more than 15 security sites, and had carried out three suicide attacks.
Army and police are currently chasing the attackers with ground and air forces, they said.
The attack, which took place in Sheikh Zuweid city of North Sinai, included suicide car bombings and heavy weapons that damaged large parts of the checkpoints, they said.
“More than 70 terrorist elements waged simultaneous attacks against five security checkpoints in North Sinai,” army spokesperson Brigadier General Mohamed Samir said in a statement on his Facebook page.
He put the number of soldiers killed and injured so far at 10 though the toll could not be immediately verified in the aftermath of the major attack.
Twenty-two militants were killed in the attacks, Samir added.
The attacks come two days after the assassination of the Egypt’s general prosecutor Hisham Barakat in a car bomb attack here and a day after President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi vowed to step up a two-year crackdown on militants.
Egypt’s North Sinai has witnessed many violent attacks by militants since the January, 2011 revolution that toppled the ex-president Hosni Mubarak.
The attacks targeting police and military increased after the ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 by military following massive protests against his rule.
Over 600 security personnel have been reported killed since then.
The military has launched security campaigns in the area, arrested suspects and demolished houses that belong to terrorists, including those facilitating tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip.