Egypt loses pilot in fighter jet crash in Sinai
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s military says one of its fighter jets crashed in the Sinai Peninsula where the country’s forces have been battling militants and that the pilot was killed. The Islamic State group claimed it downed the aircraft.
According to a tweet by Egypt’s military spokesman, Tamer Refai, the jet crashed during a training exercise on Tuesday. He said that an investigation into the crash was underway.
The Islamic State group said in a posting online that its fighters had hit the F-16 jet with a missile near the town of Shabana, south of the border town of Rafah in Sinai.
Egypt has for years been battling an insurgency in northern Sinai that is now led by an Islamic State affiliate. The fighting intensified in 2013, after the military overthrew the country’s elected but divisive Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi.
Authorities heavily restrict access to that part of Sinai, making it difficult to verify claims related to the fighting.
On Wednesday, Egypt’s general-turned-president, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, attended military exercises at a new airbase on the Red Sea coast in the country’s far southeast. The carefully staged show observed by el-Sissi featured the country’s special forces, anti-aircraft artillery, fighter jets, and Apache helicopters.