In a statement circulated on social media, the Sinai Province, a pro-Islamic State militant group, has claimed responsibility for the attacks on security checkpoints in Sheikh Zuwayed in North Sinai earlier on Wednesday, which left dozens of army personnel dead.
The group said it targeted “more than 15 locations” ran by the Egyptian army, claiming to have succeeded in blocking security supplies to the battlefield and pushing back army Apaches with its “air defense force”, as the statement put it.
Dozens of soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire between the army and police forces on one side and the militants on the other.
There have been conflicting reports about the total death toll, with Skynews Arabia reporting 60 deaths among the Armed Forces.
Egypt's army spokesperson Mohamed Samir said that 10 soldiers had died, with 22 dead among the attackers, while AFP counted 15 deaths, citing security sources. Al-Masry Al-Youm put the number at 30 soldiers, quoting medical sources.
The clashes took place after a number of simultaneous attacks early on Wednesday on a number of security checkpoints in the volatile Sheikh Zuwayed region, according to sources and eyewitnesses who spoke to Al-Masry Al-Youm. The Sinai Province militia had reportedly opened fire on a number of security units in pickup trucks.
One civilian was killed and others were wounded in the attacks, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The restive Sinai Peninsula has seen a surge in the amount of violent incidents and fatal attacks against police and army forces, which have left at least 700 soldiers and policemen dead since the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Wednesday's events come two days after the assassination of Egypt’s general prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, in a car bombing in Cairo, as the country prepared to celebrate the second anniversary of the July 2013 revolution.