At least 26 people, mostly soldiers, have been killed in a series of attacks by Islamist militants in the north of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. A car bomb and rockets hit several military targets in the North Sinai province capital of El-Arish. Other attacks took place in the town of Sheik Zuwayid and in Rafah, near Gaza. Militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which pledges allegiance to Islamic State, said it carried out the “extensive, simultaneous” attacks. Security officials said rockets were first fired at police offices, a military base and a military hotel in El-Arish before a car bomb exploded at the rear gate of the military base. Several army checkpoints in the city were also targeted. Newspaper al-Ahram said it’s El-Arish office- which is opposite the hotel and base- had been completely destroyed.
Four soldiers were wounded in an attack at a checkpoint outside El-Arish and an army major was later shot dead at a checkpoint in Rafah, medical and security sources said. More than 50 people were wounded in the attacks. North Sinai has been under a state of emergency and a curfew since October when an attack on a checkpoint killed dozens of soldiers. The army has launched major operations to try to quell violence in the region, but has so far failed. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has become the biggest threat, staging many attacks on security targets. The group, which was originally inspired by al-Qaeda but later pledged allegiance to Islamic State, has called on Egyptians to rebel against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.