EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — A roadside bomb planted by Islamic militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula hit a military vehicle on Thursday, killing six people, including a senior army officer, security and hospital officials said.
They said the bomb struck a military convoy that was patrolling an area just outside the town of Bir al-Abd in northern Sinai, killing a colonel who was the town’s military commander, a second officer and four soldiers.
Three more soldiers were wounded in the attack, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Col. Tamer el-Rifaai, Egypt’s military spokesman, later confirmed the attack in a Facebook post, saying only one officer was killed and that the other five were soldiers.
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Bir al-Abd was the scene of the deadliest terrorist attack against civilians in Egypt’s modern history, when militants killed 311 worshippers in a mosque on Nov. 24.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has since vowed to use “brute force” to crush the long-running insurgency in northern Sinai and given the military and police three months to restore “security and stability” there.
In a separate attack, a rocket-propelled grenade hit a police armored vehicle in central el-Arish, a coastal city in northern Sinai, killing one conscript. A firefight later erupted between the police and militants, and a civilian driving in the area was caught in the crossfire and killed, said the security and hospital officials. Three militants were killed in the gun battle, they added.
The officials said a third attack unfolded in central Sinai, where militants fired mortar rounds at an army base, killing one soldier and wounding two others.
Egyptian security forces have been battling militants in Sinai for years, but the insurgency picked up steam following the ouster in 2013 of an elected Islamist president whose one year in office proved divisive. The insurgency is led by a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group.