Egypt interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif (Photo: Al-AHRAM)
Egypt's interior ministry said on Monday that foreign intelligence was behind the recent attacks against Egypt's army in North Sinai and Damietta, state-run news agency MENA reported.
Abdel-Latif added that the identity of the parties supporting the terrorist groups "would be revealed after army's recent strikes against militant groups in North Sinai."
In late October, an attack on an army checkpoint in North Sinai left over 30 soldiers dead. The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis (ABM) claimed the attack in a 30-minute video clip published online on Friday. ABM has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, the militant group which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria.
The North Sinai attack prompted Egypt's army to create a buffer zone between Rafah and the Gaza Strip in an effort to root out the militant groups operating in the area.
The second attack Abdel-Latif referred to occurred last week, when the Egyptian army said that one of its boats was attacked off the coast of Damietta in the Mediterranean Sea. Five navy personnel were injured and eight were left missing, the army said.
An anonymous group of masked men released a video claiming responsibility for the navy attack.
Egypt's security forces have been facing a decade-long jihadist militant insurgency in Sinai, with militant attacks increasing over the past year and expanding into Cairo and the Nile Delta, killing hundreds of army and police personnel.
The military says it has killed and arrested hundreds of militants. Civilians have also been caught up in the violence.