Car bomb in Sinai kills 11 Egyptian soldiers


The Egyptian military is finding itself outgunned and outmanned against militants in Sinai, near the border with Israel. Here, an Egyptian soldier in Cairo.


Mahmud Hams

A bombing killed 11 off-duty soldiers in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula Wednesday when a car exploded next to their convoy, according to Egyptian media.

The attack happened near the coastal town of El Arish on the road leading to the Gaza Strip, state television reported, as two buses drove soldiers on leave toward Cairo. 

The TV report said the blast was caused by a suicide bomber, though a military source told Reuters that the explosives were detonated by remote control.  

At least 35 people were wounded in the attack, according to state media. The exact number of dead was unclear — initial reports said 12 soldiers had died, though the number was amended by a military spokesman.

"The precious blood of our sons strengthens our resolve to cleanse Egypt and shield its sons from violence and treacherous terrorism," wrote Col. Mohammed Ahmed Ali, a military spokesman, on Facebook, according to the Associated Press.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

However, Islamic militants with links to Al Qaeda are active in the Sinai and have stepped up attacks since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

The military-backed interim government in September launched a major offensive against the militants, who favor hit-and-run attacks on military and police installations in the region.

In August, the most deadly attack saw 25 Egyptian soldiers taken off a bus and executed by militants.

Another three police officers were reportedly wounded on Wednesday in a bomb attack on a security checkpoint in Cairo.

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