File Photo: Egyptian Army soldiers patrol in an armored vehicle backed by a helicopter gunship during a sweep through villages in Sheikh Zuweyid, North Sinai (Photo: Reuters)
The Islamic State terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed eight Egyptian policemen in the restive Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, as the country marked the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Fitr.
"Islamic State fighters this morning launched two simultaneous attacks on two police checkpoints in the city of El-Arish," said a statement released by the terrorist group's propaganda wing, Amaq.
It claimed that 10 policemen were killed in the two attacks; one at a checkpoint south of El-Arish and another at a checkpoint in a "nearby area."
The statement said that the twin operations were designed to divide the attention of security forces and give militants enough time to pull back before reinforcements arrived.
The interior ministry said that eight Egyptian policemen were killed in an attack in the northeastern region, a hotbed of a years-long insurgency by terrorists, some linked to the Islamic State.
Egyptian state television said there were fears the death toll could rise, amid reports of attacks on multiple checkpoints.
Hundreds of police officers and soldiers have been killed in attacks which surged after the army's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
The Interior Ministry said last month it had intelligence that terrorists were planning attacks on "important and vital facilities" as well as prominent figures in El-Arish.
In late 2017, North Sinai was the scene of the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt's modern history when militants killed more than 300 worshippers at a mosque, without any group claiming responsibility.
In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide offensive against the Islamist terrorists, focused mainly on North Sinai.
According to official figures, around 650 terrorists have been killed since the start of the operation, while the army has lost some 50 soldiers.
This article was edited by Ahram Online