IS mortar attack kills 15 Egyptian policemen in Sinai

IS mortar attack kills 15 Egyptian policemen in Sinai
2 min read
20 March, 2016
At least 15 police officers were killed when Islamic State militants ambushed a security checkpoint in the Sinai, the latest attack on the troubled peninsula.
Hundreds of officers have been killed in IS attacks in the Sinai region [Getty]
At least 15 Egyptian policemen were killed when Islamic State group-linked militants fired a mortar round at a security checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday.

The attack, claimed by Islamic State group's Sinai affiliate, took place in the city of Arish.

Witnesses said sounds of the explosion rocked the city's entrances while security forces closed the exits in response to the incident.

Ambulances attending to the wounded were reportedly subjected to heavy gunfire before government forces managed to kill five alleged militants involved in the attack.

However, there are also conflicting reports about the attack.

A statement issued by the Egypt's interior ministry contradicted an IS announcement which suggested the attack was a car bomb.

It added the attack was part of a series of operations targeting security forces in response to positioning female officers at security barriers.

An annual report from New York-based Human Rights Watch said militant attacks across Egypt had increased dramatically in 2015, despite thousands more troops being poured into the peninsula.

IS attacks on Egypt have grown more frequent and deadlier since July 2013, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, then defence minister, led the military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader.

The insurgency has also spilled over into mainland Egypt, with a series of high-profile assassinations and bombings taking place in Cairo, the capital.

Earlier this year, militants targeted Egypt's vital tourism industry, attacking a hotel near the Giza pyramids and another in the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada. IS also claimed responsibility for blowing up a Russian airliner over the peninsula last year.

Hundreds of government soldiers and security personnel have been killed in Islamic State group attacks in the Sinai region.

Meanwhile, a security clampdown has seen numerous human rights' violations including allegations of extrajudicial killings and the expulsion of thousands of Sinai residents from their homes close to the Gaza border.

Agencies contributed to this story.