March 10, 2015 / 5:53 AM / in 3 years

Bombs kill two, wound dozens in Egypt's North Sinai

CAIRO (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed a civilian and wounded 30 policemen when he tried to ram a water tanker into a police barracks in the Egyptian city of al-Arish on Tuesday, security sources said, the latest in a string of attacks in the Sinai peninsula.

In a second assault, a roadside bomb exploded near a security checkpoint in southern Arish, killing one army officer and wounding three others, security sources said.

The violence came days ahead of an investment conference in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, 340 km (210 miles) south of al-Arish, that Egypt hopes will project an image of stability and attract billions of dollars.

The attacks were concentrated in North Sinai, epicenter of an insurgency by militants seeking to topple the Cairo government.

Police opened fire on the water tanker which exploded before it could get into the barracks, the interior ministry said. One civilian near the scene was killed and two others wounded in the blast, alongside the police officers, said security and medical sources.

“The security forces were on alert and repelled the (vehicle) by firing at it without hesitation, which led to its explosion and the death of its driver,” the interior ministry said in a statement.

It said it was aware that a water tanker had gone missing and was searching for it when the attack happened.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But Islamist militants based in the Sinai have killed hundreds of soldiers and police since the army toppled Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

On Monday, a roadside bomb killed three Egyptian soldiers in Sinai, a largely lawless area bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip which is home to Egypt’s most dangerous Islamist group, Sinai Province.

Formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the group has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, the ultra-hardline Sunni group which controls large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Reporting by Yousri Mohamed in Ismailia; Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy and Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Michael Georgy and Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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