April 3, 2015 / 10:39 AM / in 3 years

Egypt militant group claims responsibility for Sinai attack on soldiers

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian militant group allied with Islamic State claimed responsibility on Friday for attacks on military checkpoints which killed 15 soldiers and two civilians in the Sinai.

Sinai Province said in a statement its fighters used rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons in the attacks on Thursday, which highlighted security challenges facing Egypt despite one of the toughest crackdowns on militancy in its history.

The group, formerly called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, said the operations killed or wounded tens of people.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has repeatedly called on Arab and Western states to confront militant groups, which have flourished in the region since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings toppled autocratic states which contained them.

Sinai-based militants have killed hundreds of soldiers and police since then army chief Sisi toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

Reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Michael Georgy

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