Sinai mortar attack kills at least 20
Troops man a checkpoint in the Sinai. (File photo)
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At least 20 people, including civilians, were killed Thursday when a series of militant attacks, involving car bombs and mortar rounds, struck several army and police positions in Egypt's volatile Sinai Peninsula, a local health ministry official has told state TV.
Thirty six others have been injured in the attacks in the town of Al-Arish, in North Sinai, where the army is battling an Islamist insurgency that has spiked since the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Suspected militants fired mortar rounds and used "car bombs" in the consecutive attacks that targeted the headquarters of the North Sinai security directorate in the provincial capital of Al-Arish, a nearby army base, a hotel and several security checkpoints, state TV and the Ahram Arabic news website reported.
ًWalls of surrounding buildings were cracked and windows were smashed, as troops combed the area in search of suspects.
The office of flagship newspaper Ahram in Al-Arish, located near the targeted police building, was slightly damaged in the attack, office head Ahmed Selim said.
The building was vacant during the time of the attack due to a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed in North Sinai late in October, following deadly militant attacks that killed 31 soldiers earlier in the month, the worst violence on Egyptian troops in recent times.
Two army personnel were wounded in a separate attack on a security checkpoint in the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid.
Egypt's army has struggled to crush the militant insurgency in the peninsula, which has at times expanded to mainland cities, including Cairo.
Militants have mainly targeted police and troops, killing hundreds in the past 18 months.
The violence has prompted the army to demolish houses and clear residents in the North Sinai border city of Rafah to set up a buffer zone aimed at deterring militant infiltration and arms smuggling.