CAIRO (AP) — A suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives at the main gate of a police club in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula early Wednesday, killing at least three police and wounding 10 others in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
In a statement, the Interior Ministry said the bomber tried to ram his four-wheel drive vehicle into the complex in the city of el-Arish, but was stopped by a concrete security barrier and detonated his explosives there. Five of the wounded were civilians and five were police. The attacker was also killed.
Egyptian security forces have for years battled a burgeoning Islamic militant insurgency in the area which is now led by a local affiliate of the extremist IS group. The fighting has surged since the army overthrew an Islamist president in 2013, with hundreds of security forces killed since then and several major suicide attacks and raids on state security buildings last summer.
A statement signed by the "Sinai Province" of the Islamic State group and circulated on social media by militant sympathizers said the bombing was in response to the "government's arrest of women from the tribes of Sinai." It said the bomber, Abu Aisha el-Masry, killed "dozens" at the officers' club. The claim could not be independently verified.
Casualty figures are difficult to track in the area, under a government-imposed state of emergency and strict curfew, where reporting by journalists is highly restricted.
El-Arish is about 70 kilometers (44 miles) north of where a Russian passenger plane crashed on Saturday, killing all 224 people onboard. The cause is under investigation. The Islamic State group claimed it "brought down" the plane, but offered no evidence.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has said the security situation in Sinai is under "full control," and that IS claims are "propaganda" aimed at damaging the Egypt's image.