CAIRO – At least 11 Egyptian soldiers, including an officer, were killed Saturday in a militia attack on a water pumping station east of the Suez Canal, the military said.
In a statement, it said at least five other soldiers were wounded in the attack, one of the bloodiest attacks against Egyptian security forces in recent years. Soldiers are pursuing militants in an isolated area in the northern Sinai Peninsula, the statement added. It did not give more details or the exact location of the attack.
Two North Sinai residents said the attack took place in the town of Qantara in Ismailia province, which stretches eastward from the Suez Canal.
The militants ambushed troops defending the pumping facility, before fleeing to the desert in North Sinai, according to residents who spoke on condition of anonymity for their safety.
No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack.
Last week, suspected gunmen blew up a natural 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 grew after the military ousted an elected but divisive Muslim president in 2013. Militants have staged multiple uprisings. attacks, mainly targeting security forces and Christians.
The military claims that the insurgents have suffered heavy losses in recent months as security forces, backed by armed tribes, ramped up efforts to destroy them.
The pace of rebel attacks on Sinai’s main station of operations and elsewhere has slowed to a trickle since February 2018, when the military launched a major operation in the Sinai as well as other areas. parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along the country’s western border with Libya.
The fight against the militants in the Sinai is largely in the public eye, with journalists, non-residents and outside observers barred from the area. Conflict has also been kept at a distance from the tourist areas at the southern end of the peninsula.