Johannesburg - The Islamic State (Isis) in the Sinai Peninsula has carried out one of its deadliest attacks on Egyptian security forces this year after the group ambushed a police convoy in the Sinai Peninsula, killing 18 officers and wounding seven others.
The militants detonated roadside bombs, which destroyed and set ablaze four armoured vehicles, and a fifth one carrying signal jamming equipment. The gunmen then opened fire with assault weapons and commandeered a police pick-up truck, Al Jazeera reported on Monday.
Two police lieutenants were killed in the attack and one of the wounded included a police brigadier general. Isis claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement carried by its Aamaq website.
The attack took place in Northern Sinai, about 30km west of the town of Al Arish. The Sinai has been the epicentre of continued clashes between Egyptian security forces and an Isis-affiliated group called the Sinai Province.
Confirming the attack in a statement Egypt’s Interior Ministry, without giving precise figures, said several policemen had been killed or wounded.
Calling it a “traitorous incident”, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said his country was determined to fight these criminal actions, which targeted the safety of citizens, with its full force.
This attack was the deadliest on Egyptian security forces since July when Isis militants killed 23 soldiers after they attacked a remote army outpost in the border town of Rafah, near Gaza.
Monday’s deadly ambush followed two raids by security forces on Sunday on apartments in a densely populated neighbourhood of Cairo where members of a cell were allegedly planning attacks on the capital.
The police said they killed 10 people during the raids. The members of the cell were reported to have sneaked into Cairo from the northern Sinai but it was unclear if they were members of IS or not.
Egypt has been battling an Islamic insurgency for years but the killings and clashed spiked after the overthrow of former President Muhammad Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013. The fighting has concentrated on attacking security forces and Coptic Christians in the restive Sinai.
However, numerous attacks have also taken place on the mainland too, specifically deadly bombings of Coptic churches, killing dozens of worshippers.
The Isis-affiliated Sinai Province has also carried out bombing and shooting attacks against police and members of the government in Cairo and surrounding areas.