Egyptian officials say 9 killed in explosion in north Sinai
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Egyptian officials say 9 killed in explosion in north Sinai

Blast in Bir al-Abd also wounds six; not immediately clear who was behind shelling as Cairo battles IS insurgency in area

Illustrative: Egyptian soldiers in an armored vehicle in northern Sinai, May 2013. (AP)
Illustrative: Egyptian soldiers in an armored vehicle in northern Sinai, May 2013. (AP)

EL-ARISH, Egypt — Egyptian security and medical officials said Saturday an explosion in a town in restive northern Sinai Peninsula had killed at least nine people of the same family.

The officials said the explosion in Bir al-Abd also wounded six. It was not immediately clear who was behind the shelling and there were no additional details.

Separately, officials said seven security forces personnel were wounded in two militant attacks in Bir al-Abd and the border town of Rafah.

The town was the site of a horrific 2017 attack on a mosque by Islamic extremists which killed over 300 people.

A car damaged by a tank shell fired from Sinai, in the Israeli community of Bnei Netzarim, September 28, 2019 (Israel Police)

Egypt is battling an Islamic State-led insurgency in the Sinai that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. The militants have carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and Christians.

The violence has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, which has seen an Islamist uprising against the Egyptian government in recent years, and is home to a branch of the Islamic State. In the past, some Bedouin clans engaged in human trafficking and mass kidnappings for ransom in the center of the peninsula.

In February 2018, the Egyptian army launched a nationwide operation against Islamist forces, mainly focused on the northern Sinai and in the western desert, along the porous border with Libya.

No independent statistics are available and the regions where much of the fighting has taken place are largely cut off to journalists, making verification of casualty figures extremely difficult.

On September 27, a terrorist ambush in Bir al-Abd killed seven soldiers and one civilian.

The Islamic State claimed the deadly attack, Reuters reported, citing security sources.

Two Egyptian soldiers were also injured in the attack. IS claimed in its Amaq news agency that 15 of its members had been killed.

Hours later, a tank shell fired from the Sinai exploded in the Israeli community of Bnei Netzarim, in what appeared to be a case of internal fighting between Egyptian forces and militants spilling over the border.

There were no casualties, though light damage was caused to the community’s synagogue. A parked car’s back windscreen was smashed.

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