Fifteen police officers and soldiers were killed Saturday evening in an attack that targeted a police checkpoint in the North Sinai city of Al-Arish, according to an official statement from the Interior Ministry issued Sunday.
In a preliminary statement published on the Interior Ministry’s Facebook page Saturday evening, it was first reported that the attack at Al-Safa checkpoint killed two commissioned police officers, one non-commissioned police officer, and 10 soldiers. As of Sunday, that number changed to 15 killed.
The “Sinai Province”, who claimed responsibility for the attack, released a statement that claims the attack was a suicide operation carried out using a truck bomb.
The militant group, affiliated to the “Islamic State” (IS), also claimed they stormed the security checkpoint following the attack, during which the group’s operatives seized weapons.
The Sinai Province’s statement claimed the attacks are retribution for inspection procedures that Muslim women have been subjected to at military checkpoints.
Other the past few weeks, social media users have commented on such procedures by military personnel at checkpoints. Security officials have asked women to frisk themselves, a process largely described as demeaning in the relation between male guards and female citizens who are inspected.
The US embassy in Cairo released a statement condemning the Al-Arish attack, and expressed its condolences to the families of the victims and asserted US support for the Egyptian government in its fight against terrorism.
As part of a report on the group’s recent activity, “Sinai Province” also published on Sunday video footage that allegedly shows the operations they have carried out between the beginning of February and the end of March. The report claimed that ”Sinai Province” has killed 32 and injured 80 security personnel from the army and police forces through IEDs, attacks, as well as decapitating four North Sinai residents who the group considered to be spies.
The group also claimed responsibility for destroying 17 armoured vehicles.
“Sinai Province” said in its report that on 11 February that it targeted a military camp and Al-Arish International Airport using BM21-Grad missiles, claiming they had executed this operation while both the interior minister and the defence minister were visiting the area.
Last week, “Sinai Province” published a video claiming responsibility for two attacks that occurred in Sinai by also publishing photos on its social media account.
In the first instance, the IS-affiliated group published documentary evidence allegedly showing an explosion that occurred when an IED detonated near an armoured personnel vehicle south of Sheikh Zuweid city in the North Sinai governorate.
In the second instance, the militant group published photos allegedly showing the official uniforms, laptops, and explosive detection devices of Egyptian armed forces.
Sinai has become the scene of frequent clashes between militants and state security forces. As a result, an extensive counter-insurgency operation was launched to curb militancy within Sinai. These operations have imposed a state of emergency in the northern regions of the peninsula.