Egypt says deadly extremist attack hits Sinai checkpoint

February 16, 2019 GMT

CAIRO (AP) — Extremists attacked an army checkpoint in the troubled northern Sinai peninsula on Saturday at dawn, causing 15 casualties among the armed forces including at least one officer shot dead, Egypt’s military spokesman said.

The army managed to kill seven of the extremists during the firefight, but did not give any further information on the army’s own casualties, according to a statement by Col. Tamer Rifai.

Two other officers in the area who gave a more detailed account said the officer and all the other 14 troops had been killed.

The attack involved some 200 fighters storming in from nearby olive groves, hitting the outpost with sustained heavy gunfire before entering the compound, which is near an airport, they said. The men seized weapons and then fled back through the groves, they added, speaking on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to brief journalists.

The army has for years been battling a long-running insurgency in North Sinai that is now led by an Islamic State affiliate. The fighting intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013.

Authorities heavily restrict access to the northern Sinai, making it difficult to verify claims related to the fighting.