Sinai attacks kill at least 30 Egyptian soldiers

Egypt’s National Defense Council declares state of emergency in parts of Sinai

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A coordinated attack on an Egyptian army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday killed at least 27 people, making it the deadliest attack against the armed forces in decades.

Hours later a second attack killed three soldiers when gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint in the town of al-Arish

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack. Similar previous operations have been claimed by Egypt's most active militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqsis.

Following the attacks Egypt National defiance Council, convened by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, declared a three-month state of emergency in parts of Sinai, including a curfew.

Security forces face a jihadist insurgency that has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the army toppled President Mohammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood last year after mass protests against his rule. Most attacks have been in Sinai.

Last Sunday, a roadside bomb exploded near an armored vehicle guarding a gas pipeline in north Sinai, killing seven soldiers, AFP reported.

In September, militants killed 17 policemen in Sinai in two bombings and later released footage of the attacks.

Those bombings were claimed by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the most active militant group in Egypt. It tried to assassinate the interior minister in Cairo last year with a car bomb.

The group has expressed support for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), although it has not formally pledged its allegiance.
The military has said it killed at least 22 militants in October, including a local Ansar Beit al-Maqdis commander.

The group itself has acknowledged the arrest or deaths of its cadres, but so far the army has been unable to quell the militants despite a massive operation in which it has deployed attack helicopters and tanks.

The militants sometimes operate openly in north Sinai, setting up impromptu checkpoints and handing out leaflets.

They say they target policemen and soldiers to avenge a bloody police crackdown on Islamists after Morsi's overthrow that killed hundreds in street clashes and imprisoned thousands more.