A suicide car bombing claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targeted a hotel in Egypt’s northern Sinai region, killing at least seven people, including two judges, according to the state MENA news agency.
The attack on the Swiss Inn hotel in the coastal city of El Arish on Tuesday was the latest violence to hit the troubled peninsula, where Egyptian troops are struggling to put down ISIL.
The attack was quickly claimed by ISIL’s affiliate based in the Sinai Peninsula.
The attack came a day after Egypt held the second round of parliamentary elections. Judges who supervised the vote in Sinai were staying in the heavily guarded hotel.
MENA’s report said four policemen and a civilian were also among the seven killed, and that at least 10 people were wounded. The agency cited an unnamed security official.
The attack began as Egyptian troops and policemen guarding the Swiss Inn hotel opened fire on a suspicious, explosives-laden car approaching the building, blowing it up before it reached the hotel, the military said.
In the meantime, two armed men slipped inside the hotel.
One detonated an explosives vest in the hotel’s kitchen, while the second opened fire in a hotel room.
The military said all armed men involved in the attack were killed, but gave no other details.
The Sinai branch of ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on social media accounts.
It said the attack was carried out by two fighters: the suicide car bomber and an armed man, who is alleged to have opened fire inside the hotel before blowing himself up.
The group also posted pictures of the two attackers and identified them as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer and Abu Wadhaa al-Muhajer.
Russian plane crash
Sinai was also shaken last month when a Russian passenger airliner crashed in the north of the peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.
Russia has said an explosive device placed on board the Airbus 321-200 was to blame for the October 31 crash, which took place 23 minutes after takeoff from the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in southern Sinai.
The local ISIL branch claimed responsibility for the crash and posted a photo purportedly showing the bomb used to down the plane.
The crash led Russia to suspend all flights to and from Egypt, while Britain suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh.
The suspensions have dealt a severe blow to Egypt’s vital tourism industry, deepening the country’s economic woes.