SHAFAQNA – At least 44 people have been killed and many others injured in militant attacks across Egypt’s volatile Sinai Peninsula.
Egyptian security officials said at least 44 people were killed and over 80 others injured after militants carried out attacks on army and police targets as well as an office of a daily newspaper in the strife-stricken Sinai Peninsula.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a massive car bomb detonated outside the headquarters of the 101st Brigade of the Egyptian army in the city of El-Arish, situated 344 kilometers (214 miles) northeast of the capital, Cairo, late on Thursday, leaving scores of people killed and wounded.
They noted that the death toll is expected to rise since several rounds of mortar shells were fired at the military base shortly afterwards, destroying buildings inside the camp and burying people under the rubble.
Eyewitnesses said that at least 20 ambulances rushed to the scene of the attack, and took the injured soldiers to nearby hospitals.
Separately, an office of Egypt’s most-widely-circulated daily, al-Ahram, was “completely destroyed” in an assault by gunmen.
Two Egyptian army officers were also injured when an army convoy was targeted with mortar shells in the border town of Rafah.
Over an hour later, there were reports of another ambush on an army convoy just south of Rafah. Gunmen also reportedly attacked a checkpoint in Rafah.
Earlier on Thursday, fierce clashes broke out between militants and Egyptian army soldiers in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, situated 334 kilometers (214 miles) northeast of Cairo. The violence lasted for over an hour, and completely destroyed an armored vehicle belonging to the Egyptian military.
Ansar Bait al-Maqdis militant group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks.
A state of emergency has been declared in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula since a militant attack on an Egyptian army checkpoint killed more than 30 soldiers in October 2014.
The residents living along the border between northern Sinai and the besieged Gaza Strip have been ordered to relocate. The Egyptian army is also razing over 800 houses in the area to create a wider buffer zone with Gaza.
The Egyptian military considers the Sinai Peninsula a safe haven for gunmen, who use the region as a base for their “acts of terror.”
Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which has pledged allegiance to the ISIL Takfiri group, has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks in the region.