Three improvised explosive devices (IED) in North Sinai have claimed the lives of two and left five injured.
The IEDs targeted two buses transporting military personnel on a road connecting Rafah and the North Sinai capital Al-Arish, a statement by the military spokesperson Colonel Ahmed Ali read. Assailants also opened heavy fire on the buses before security forces “immediately clashed with the terrorist group, forcing it to flee,” the statement added.
The two who died were a soldier and a civilian driver. The injured are currently receiving treatment in Al-Arish Military Hospital. The military said it is combing the area to find the perpetrators.
This is the second attack on security personnel between Al-Arish and Rafah within a week. On Sunday, three conscripts were reported injured after unknown assailants reportedly opened fire using live ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades on a bus transferring conscripts.
Militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for several attacks. The most recent attack was on Saturday near the Military Intelligence building in Ismailia, which left six injured. The group claimed responsibility for the attack on Monday and said: “The explosion occurred through a car bomb to cleanse Egypt of crime and military foreign agents.”
Last week, at least nine soldiers were wounded when improvised bombs targeted vehicles in Rafah. A few days before, a suicide bomber killed four soldiers and injured five in an explosion at the Al-Rayessa checkpoint. The checkpoint had been attacked more than 40 times since January 2011.
There has been a surge in militancy in Sinai after the ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, with militants regularly targeting security forces and security buildings. Spokesperson Ali said last month in a press conference that the “spread of terrorism” in the Sinai Peninsula is “the product of the negligence of the state.”
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said last month that there are doubts that Hamas is somehow related to “terrorist activity in Sinai.” Fahmy also warned that tough responses, including military action, will follow if Egypt feels Hamas is posing a threat to its national security.
The Deputy Head of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haniyeh said earlier this week: “We are not party to any incident that took place or that is taking place in Sinai…” He added that Hamas is shocked that Egyptian media services, and even officials, address Hamas “like it is a party that wants evil for Egypt, its security and army.”