Egypt general says 4 soldiers killed in Sinai fighting

CAIRO (AP) — Fighting on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday killed a general and four soldiers, the military said, just days after an attack killed 11 soldiers.

The troops were killed in clashes with militants, which followed airstrikes in recent days, a military spokesman said in a statement. The military claims at least seven extremists were killed in the same battle.

Two security officials said militants attacked a checkpoint of the country’s border guards near the city of Rafah on the country’s Mediterranean coast, which borders the Gaza Strip, two security officials said, where clashes took place. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Saturday’s attack was one of the deadliest against Egyptian security forces in recent years, the Islamic State group claimed.

Egypt is battling an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divided Islamist president in 2013. The extremists have carried out dozens of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and Christians, but the pace has slowed in recent years.

On April 30, suspected militants blew up a gas pipeline in the northern Sinai town of Bir al-Abd, setting off a fire, but no casualties were reported.

The military claims the insurgents have suffered heavy losses in recent months as security forces, with the help of members of armed tribes, have stepped up efforts to eliminate them.

The pace of armed attacks in the main war zone in the Sinai Peninsula and elsewhere has slowed to a trickle since February 2018 when the army launched a massive operation in parts of the Sinai peninsula and the Nile delta, as well as in the country’s western desert border with Libya.

Most of the fighting in Sinai took place out of the public eye, with journalists, non-residents and outside observers barred from entering the area. The conflict has also distanced itself from tourist attractions on the southern tip of the peninsula.

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