Scores killed in Sinai clashes

Egyptian military says operations in violence-hit peninsula have left seven soldiers and 59 fighters dead.

File photo of Egyptian military vehicle on highway in northern Sinai
Military says two explosive storage facilities and two vehicles used by armed groups have been destroyed [File - Reuters]

Egypt’s military spokesman says seven soldiers and 59 fighters have been killed in clashes at the Sinai Peninsula.

The statement from Brigadier-General Mohammed Samir said Saturday’s operations also involved air cover, adding that two explosive storage facilities and two vehicles used by armed groups were destroyed.

The spokesman initially said on Sunday that a shell struck a single checkpoint, killing three soldiers and wounding four.

Fighting took place in areas around Rafah, El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai governorate.

Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press news agency, said fighters attacked two checkpoints.

OPINION: The Sinai is far from stable

In its daily radio broadcast, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group said its fighters attacked multiple checkpoints and military installations on Saturday in North Sinai, naming at least two checkpoints and saying clashes took place near a local airport.

Last year, the main armed organisation operating in Sinai pledged its allegiance to ISIL, which holds large parts of land in Iraq and Syria.

An Egyptian navy vessel was targeted on Thursday by fighters affiliated with ISIL, who claimed they destroyed it with a rocket while it was anchored off the Sinai’s Mediterranean coast.

Samir, the military spokesman, said at the time that the vessel caught fire in an exchange of fire with “terrorists” on the shore and that there were no fatalities among its crew members.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies