Islamic militants carried out a wave of terror attacks on early Thursday in the Sinai Peninsula. In the most deadly of five separate attacks, over fifteen Egyptian soldiers were killed, and at least nineteen were wounded, officials stated. All of the assaults were carried out near the military checkpoint in Sheikh Zuweid, which is located mere miles from the Gaza Strip.
Another three were killed and thirteen wounded in four separate attacks near Sheikh Zuweid. Military officials stated that those attacks were likely meant to distract troops from the major operation against the Egyptian military at its local military checkpoint.
The gunmen were armed with rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and assault rifles, security sources told Reuters. No groups have yet to come forward and claim responsibility for the attack
Egyptian military officials said that the militants seized two armored vehicles, but one was destroyed after a helicopter gunship blew up one of the stolen military vehicles. However, the second one got away and is out of sight, officials told the Associated Press. The jihadis also tried to capture a U.S.-made M1 Abrams tank, but failed to succeed in the effort, an unnamed military spokesperson told the media.
The Predominant terror group in the Sinai peninsula, once called Ansar Bayt Al Maqdis, has recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) terror group. The group now refers to itself as the Sinai Province (of the Islamic State).
Since the beginning of the year, the Egyptian military has sought to create a buffer zone between Sheikh Zuweid and the Gaza Strip, in order to keep a better defensive posture against Palestinian terror group Hamas. Attacks on Egyptian forces in the Sinai have continued to be a major issue since the fall of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood regime in 2013, when former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the Egyptian military.