CAIRO – At least 11 Egyptian troops, including an officer, were killed on Saturday in a militant attack on a water pumping station east of the Suez Canal, the army said.
In a statement, it said at least five other troops were injured in the attack, one of the deadliest attacks on Egyptian security forces in recent years. Troops pursued militants in an isolated area of the northern Sinai Peninsula, the statement said. It gave no further details or the precise location of the attack.
Two residents of northern Sinai said the attack took place in the town of Qantara in Ismailia province, which stretches east of the Suez Canal.
The militants attacked troops guarding the pumping station before fleeing to the desert in northern Sinai, residents said, who wished to remain anonymous for their safety.
No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack.
Last week, suspected militants blew up a natural gas pipeline in the northern Sinai city of Bir al-Abd, starting a fire but no casualties.
Egypt is fighting an Islamic State-led insurgency in Sinai that escalated after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. The militants have carried out dozens of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and Christians.
The military has claimed that insurgents have suffered heavy casualties in recent months as security forces, aided by armed tribesmen, stepped up their efforts to eliminate them.
The pace of militant strikes in the main area of operations in Sinai and elsewhere has slowed to a trickle since February 2018, when the military launched a massive operation in Sinai and in parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along the country’s western border with Libya .
The fight against militants in the Sinai has been largely hidden from the public eye, with journalists, non-residents and outside observers barred from entering the area. The conflict has also been kept at bay from tourist resorts on the south side of the peninsula.