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Two police killed in north Sinai attack

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis blamed after rocket-propelled grenade hits minibus near town of el-Arish; 11 hurt in separate bombings

Egyptian military soldiers inspect the scene after a suicide attacker drove his explosive-laden car into the bus near the border town of Rafah, November 20, 2013. (AP/Official Facebook Page of the Egyptian Military Spokesman of the Armed Forces)
Egyptian military soldiers inspect the scene after a suicide attacker drove his explosive-laden car into the bus near the border town of Rafah, November 20, 2013. (AP/Official Facebook Page of the Egyptian Military Spokesman of the Armed Forces)

Two policemen were killed in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula as terrorists targeted a minibus with a rocket-propelled grenade, security officials said Friday.

The attack occurred late Thursday in the north Sinai town of el-Arish, Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency reported.

The bus was carrying police recruits when it was attacked, killing two and injuring 10, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

A security source cited by the agency blamed the attack on Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, an al-Qaeda-linked terror group responsible for a string of deadly attacks in the northern Sinai.

The attack came hours after 11 people were injured in the northern Egyptian city of Tanta as two bombs went off in the middle of a Muslim festival.

The bombs were placed behind a mosque and went off near-simultaneously in the Nile Delta city of Tanta where residents and pilgrims crowded the streets, observing the Festival of Sheikh el-Sayyed Ahmed el-Baddawi, a revered 13th-century religious figure. The festival draws massive crowds every year. Sufism is a mystic branch of Islam.

Most of the victims were wounded by flying shrapnel, said Magdy Awad, chairman of the local ambulance services. The victims were taken to the Tanta University Hospital; none were reported to be in critical condition.

The number of casualties could have been higher but a bomb squad was able to dismantle a third explosive device, which had also been placed near the mosque, an Egyptian security official told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to talk to media.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Egypt has been grappling with militant attacks, suicide bombings and assassinations since the military ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, following massive demonstrations demanding his resignation.

Morsi’s ouster and subsequent crackdown on his supporters — with more than 1,000 people killed and thousands more arrested — sparked a wave of attacks, primarily against security forces.

On Tuesday night, a home-made bomb went off on a busy street in downtown Cairo, wounding 12 people. Authorities said that blast was caused by a bomb placed in the vicinity of a courthouse.

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