File Photo: Egyptian Army soldiers patrol in an armoured vehicle backed by a helicopter gunship during a sweep through villages in Sheikh Zuweid , North Sinai (Photo: Reuters)
The Islamic State's Egyptian affiliate claimed responsibility on Thursday for a bombing that struck an armoured military vehicle in North Sinai, killing four soldiers.
An army spokesman said earlier that an officer and three soliders were killed and three others wounded when a roadside bomb hit their armoured vehicle in a village near the restive town of Rafah, a site of a rising militant insurgency.
Sinai Province, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamist State group, claimed responsability for the assault in a statement posted on Twitter. It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the statement.
The militant group, Egypt's most deadly, claimed a missile attack last week on an Egyptian navy boat off North Sinai--adjoining Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip. It also said it was behind a powerful bombing that hit the Italian Consulate in central Cairo a week earlier.
Egypt's army is fighting an Islamist insurrection based in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, which has heightened since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The violence has largely targeted security forces, killing hundreds over the past two years.
Seven soldiers were killed on Saturday when a shell struck a military checkpoint in North Sinai, according to a military spokesman. Operations by troops during the day, which involved air strikes, left 59 militants dead.
Earlier in July, 21 soldiers were killed during simultaneous militant assaults on army checkpoints in the North Sinai towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, an attack that prompted days-long fighting between troops and insurgents and left over 200 militants dead.
The attacks, the bloodiest in the region in years, were also claimed by the militant group.