IS Egypt Branch Claims Deadly Sinai Attacks

The Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility Friday for deadly attacks on army checkpoints in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 15 soldiers and two civilians.

Jihadists launched simultaneous attacks Thursday on five checkpoints in the restive Sinai with assault rifles and grenade launchers, the deadliest in months against Egyptian security forces.

Medics said 15 soldiers and two civilians were killed.

"The lions of the Sinai Province early on Thursday launched wide scale simultaneous attacks against security checkpoints on the road between Rafah and Arish," in North Sinai, the group said in a tweet.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis -- Partisans of Jerusalem in English -- changed its name last year to Sinai Province after pledging allegiance to IS, which controls chunks of territory in Iraq and Syria.

The group, which has previously claimed several sophisticated attacks in Sinai and the Nile valley, now wants to establish in Egypt a province of the self-declared IS "caliphate".

In the tweet, the group said all those who took part in the attacks had returned safely to their base, countering army reports that 15 militants were killed in an exchange of fire.

Jihadists have carried out regular attacks against security forces since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

They say the attacks are in retaliation to a deadly government crackdown against Islamists.

Source: Agence France Presse

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