Militants kill 11 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai

CAIRO — At least 11 Egyptian soldiers, including an officer, were killed in a militant attack on Saturday that targeted a water pumping station east of the Suez Canal, the army said.

In a statement, he said at least five other soldiers were injured in the attack, one of the deadliest against Egyptian security forces in recent years. Troops were pursuing militants in a remote area in the northern Sinai Peninsula, the statement added. He gave no other details or the precise location of the attack.

Two North Sinai residents said the attack took place in the town of Qantara in Ismailia province, which lies east of the Suez Canal.

The militants ambushed troops guarding the pumping facility, before fleeing into the North Sinai desert, according to locals, who spoke on condition of anonymity for their safety.

No group claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack.

Last week, suspected militants blew up a gas pipeline in the northern Sinai town of Bir al-Abd, causing a fire but no casualties.

Egypt is battling an Islamic State-led insurgency in the Sinai that escalated after the army overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. Militants have carried out numerous attacks, mainly targeting security forces and Christians.

The army said the insurgents had suffered heavy casualties in recent months as security forces, aided by armed tribesmen, stepped up efforts to eliminate them.

The pace of militant attacks in the main Sinai theater of operations and elsewhere has slowed since February 2018, when the military launched a massive operation in the Sinai as well as parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along of the country’s western border with Libya.

The fight against militants in the Sinai has largely taken place out of public view, with journalists, non-residents and outside observers barred from the area. The conflict was also kept away from tourist resorts at the southern end of the peninsula.

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