Militants attack Egyptian checkpoint near Gaza, kill officer

AP News
Posted: Mar 11, 2015 4:19 AM

EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — Islamic militants attacked an army checkpoint in northern Sinai near the border with Gaza early on Wednesday, killing an officer, officials said.

The attack came as Egypt's Islamic State affiliate, which is based in the restive peninsula, claimed responsibility for two attacks the previous day.

In Wednesday's attack, militants opened fire on the checkpoint in el-Baraham near the border town of Rafah, triggering a shootout that killed 26-year-old Capt. Ayman Hassan, said medical and security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State affiliate in Egypt — previously known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis — claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attacks that killed two and wounded dozens in restive Sinai. In one of the attacks, a suicide bomber drove a stolen water tanker packed with explosives up to the police compound in the city of el-Arish. His refusal to slow down at the gate prompted police to fire at the vehicle, setting off the explosives inside.

Egypt has been battling an Islamic insurgency in northern Sinai for years, but attacks against army and police there have dramatically increased since the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The military has undertaken a major offensive against militants in restive Sinai — where Egypt's Islamic State affiliate is based — and declared a state of emergency, along with a dusk-to-dawn curfew.