"The lions of jihad ... pounced on a vehicle of the multinational force, killing three Israelis and two Canadians and wounding two others," claimed the internet statement, whose authenticity could not be confirmed.

North Sinai provincial governor Ahmad Abd al-Hamid said two female Canadian peacekeepers from the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) were lightly injured in the blast on Monday, which officials described as a terrorist attack.

There were no reports of fatalities.

"Terrorists planted two gas canisters on the road and linked them to an electrical wire. They hid in nearby apricot groves and blew them up," Abd al-Hamid said.

Abd al-Hamid said only one of the bombs exploded and that the other was being examined by ordnance experts.

He added that several beduin in the area had been arrested. A senior Egyptian security official confirmed the circumstances of the attack.

The claim of responsibility, which appeared on a website on the internet, gave a similar version, saying the blast was triggered by "two gas canisters linked to an electric system".

Observer force

The MFO was set up to supervise security provisions in the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

The North Camp at al-Gora, which is about 20km south of Sinai's Mediterranean coast, is the MFO's largest installation and site of the force commander's headquarters, the MFO's website said.

The 11 countries sending contingents to the MFO are Australia, Colombia, France, Italy, Norway, the United States, Canada, Fiji, Hungary, New Zealand and Uruguay, the website said.

Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, the first
Arab country to make peace with the Jewish state after fighting several wars in the Sinai Peninsula.

An Egyptian security source earlier said the blast was caused by a landmine left over in from wars between Israel and Egypt.