BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Unidentified gunmen shot and killed five Egyptian soldiers in the Egyptian city of al-Arish in the Northern Sinai peninsula on Saturday, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior said in a statement.
According to the ministry, the five soldiers were returning from vacation in the area between Jisr al-Wadi and al-Dairi when unidentified assailants opened fire on them, killing them all.
The five soldiers were identified as Ahmad Abd al-Fattah Abd al-Rahman, Karim Muhammad Shabaan, Muhammad Hasan Abd al-Ati, Mustafa Kamil Ibrahim, and Al-Sayid Yahiya al-Sayid Ali.The statement added that Egyptian security forces were intensifying their efforts to catch the perpetrators.
In another incident on Saturday morning, nine policemen were injured when an explosive device planted on the road was remotely detonated as the armored vehicle carrying the conscripts passed in the city of Rafah, Israeli media reported. One conscript later died of his wounds. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.
Egyptian military and police forces have been the target of ongoing attacks, which have increased since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi took power from democratically-elected Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.
The Egyptian president came under attack following his violent suppression of Muslim Brotherhood members following his rise to power, which Sisi has argued is necessary to deter future attacks in the Sinai and across Egypt.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the militant group responsible for a majority of attacks on military personnel, aligned with the Islamic State group in November 2014, changing its name to Sinai Province.
According to recent statistics published by the Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliated media outlet Ammaq, during the past three months, Sinai Province snipers killed 35 Egyptian police and army conscripts, the majority of which were carried out in Rafah, Daily News Egypt reported on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the group assassinated two police and army officers during the same period, in addition to a non-commissioned police officer and an "army collaborator," according to Ammaq.
According to Daily News Egypt, the Sinai Province has been targeting civilians suspected of "collaborating" with the Egyptian army through "hijacking operations," while also executing civilians that the group accuses of espionage with the army against the ISIS-affiliated group.