Militants kill 18 policemen in Egypt’s restive North Sinai

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Cairo, Sept 11 (PTI): Heavily-armed Islamic State militants on Monday ambushed a police convoy, killing 18 policemen and wounding eight others in the restive Al-Arish city of North Sinai in Egypt in one of the deadliest attacks on forces.

Security sources said that a roadside bomb targeted the armoured vehicles and set ablaze four of them. The gunmen then opened fire on policemen. Only four victims were identified. Four policemen and four medics were injured in the attack, they added. Two police lieutenants were among the dead. Ambulances were unable to reach the area of the attack immediately because terrorists were targeting them with fire, according to sources.

Police forces chased the attackers and killed three of them. Security campaigns are currently ongoing in the area. The Ministry of Interior has made no comments so far on the incident. The ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement carried by its propaganda ‘Amaq’ news agency. In July, 23 army personnel were killed in an ISIS attack that targeted army checkpoint in the North Sinai’s Rafah.

Monday’s attack came a day after Egyptian security forces killed 10 terrorists during a raid at their hideouts in a densely populated central Cairo neighbourhood. Five policemen, including three officers, were also injured in the shootout. The militants were said to be the suspected members of a splinter faction of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group. The army has been battling a powerful Islamic State affiliate in northern Sinai since 2014.

North Sinai has witnessed several terror attacks since the January 2011 revolution that toppled the longtime president Hosni Mubarak. The attacks, mainly targeting police and the military, increased after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 by the army following protests against his rule. Hundreds of police and soldiers have been killed since then. The military has launched security campaigns in the North Sinai area, in which some terrorist groups are based. The security forces have arrested suspects and demolished houses that belong to terrorists, including those facilitating tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip.

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