An Egyptian woman and child have been killed in a car bomb, and four soldiers have died in a separate explosion, in the northern Sinai Peninsula, according to the Egyptian army.

The military, which is engaged in a campaign against armed groups in the area, said on Friday the woman and child were killed in a car bomb in Rafah, on the border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

The four soldiers were killed in a bomb attack during clashes with fighters, also in northern Sinai, a military spokesperson said in a statement, without giving further details.

Inside Story: Egypt in 'a state of fighting'

On Monday, the military launched a major offensive against fighters affiliated to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, which has seized control of chunks of Iraq and Syria.

The Egyptian army said 232 fighters had been killed in the operation. It was not possible independently to verify the claim.

The army is struggling to contain an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since 2013, when the army toppled Mohamed Morsi from the presidency.

In recent months, Sinai Province, a local ISIL affiliate, has claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on an Egyptian naval vessel near the coast of Israel and Gaza, less than a week after claiming a bombing in Cairo that heavily damaged the Italian consulate.

Sinai Province earlier assaulted several military checkpoints in North Sinai in what was the fiercest fighting in the region in years.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has said the group poses an existential threat to Egypt, the most populous Arab country.

 

Source: Agencies