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3 Egyptian soldiers killed, 4 injured in Sinai bomb attack

Feb. 17, 2017 9:22 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 19, 2017 6:15 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma’an) -- Islamic State fighters allegedly targeted an Egyptian army tank in a bomb attack in the town of Hasna in the central Sinai Peninsula on Friday, causing the death of three Egyptian soldiers while four others were injured, according to Egyptian security sources.

Sources added that the injured soldiers were transferred to a military hospital in the coastal city of Suez.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, an Egyptian policeman was critically injured after being shot in the head by unidentified gunmen at a government checkpoint in al-Arish city.

The policeman was transferred to a military hospital in al-Arish to receive treatment.

The Sinai Peninsula has been the site of ongoing attacks -- predominantly targeting Egyptian military and police forces -- which have increased since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi took power from 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 al-Sisi has argued is necessary to deter future attacks in the Sinai and across Egypt.

The ongoing insurgency has led to heightened tension between civilians living in Sinai and security forces controlling the area.

Earlier this month, the Egyptian army killed 14 gunmen and detained 13 others during a military campaign in the northern Sinai Peninsula. Three car bombs were also allegedly destroyed, while explosive devices, weapons, communication devices, and military clothing were also seized.

On Jan. 23, five Egyptian soldiers were killed by gunmen, and two days prior, eight civilians were killed after a mortar shell fell on a residential area in the northern Sinai city of Rafah, near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Earlier in January, Egyptian forces killed at least 10 Egyptian youths in al-Arish, who Egyptian forces claimed were responsible for carrying out “terror attacks” over the previous days in the town.

However, days later, Al-Jazeera reported that residents in al-Arish were accusing the state of carrying out "extrajudicial killings," saying that six of the slain youths named by the Egyptian Ministry of Interior had been detained months ago by Egyptian authorities.

Al-Sisi said in January that 25,000 soldiers were deployed in northern Sinai to fight the militants, a previously undisclosed figure that seemed to underline the magnitude of the conflict.

According to a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Egyptian government said that its counterterrorism operations in North Sinai killed at least 3,091 “terrorists” between January and July 2015, with HRW noting that the government did not allow independent observers into the area of fighting and did not acknowledge any civilian deaths in the Sinai, while the Egyptian government has barred journalists from reporting on events in Sinai.

Amid the violence, Egyptian authorities have also been accused of heavy-handed tactics, including collective punishment following deadly attacks, by imposing curfews and a state of emergency, and even ordering the destruction of hundreds of homes skirting Sinai’s border with the besieged Gaza Strip.
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