A suicide bomber driving a garbage truck packed with explosives rammed his vehicle into an Egyptian security checkpoint in the northern Sinai city of al-Arish on Monday, killing at least 10 people and wounding 22, officials said.
The attackers planted a bomb in a street cleaning vehicle they had stolen a few days earlier from the municipality of al- Arish, security sources told Reuters. The militants had built in metal plates to enforce the truck, they added.
According to security and medical officials, the attack in al-Arish was followed by smaller explosions as militants wearing black masks fired rocket-propelled grenades at the troops around the checkpoint.
The Interior Ministry said the attack was carried out by a group of around 20 men who had used RPGs and a vehicle bomb. Security forces had detonated the bomb before it reached the checkpoint, and had killed five of the attackers and wounded three others.
Three floors of the police building were blown out, the officials said, adding that so far, bodies of 10 people — all but one of them policemen — have been retrieved from the rubble but that they fear the death toll could rise further. The wounded were taken to hospital.
At the checkpoint, two officers survived unharmed, the officials said. There were unconfirmed reports that a number of security personnel were seized and abducted by the gunmen.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which bore all the hallmarks of Egypt’s ISIS affiliate.
The Sunni militant group has carried out scores of attacks against security forces in the volatile northern Sinai and elsewhere in the country. The Egyptian army has struggled over the past few years to contain the insurgency.
In November, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a checkpoint that killed 15 soldiers.
In a November issue of its weekly online magazine, Al-Nabaa, ISIS urged members to join other branches of the group in areas like Sinai, Libya, Yemen and West Africa if they could not travel to its self-declared “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.