Islamic militants kill at least 30 in Sinai

Egyptian military targeted by attacks

Islamic State’s Egypt wing has claimed responsibility for killing at least 30 security personnel in four separate attacks in the North Sinai and Suez provinces on the night of 29 January, prompting Egyptian president al-Sisi to cut short his visit to Addis Ababa for an African Union summit on 30 January.

Most of the casualties occurred at an attack on a police barracks, military base and military hotel in Al-Arish in North Sinai. During the attack the local office of the flagship state newspaper Al-Ahram, located opposite the base, was completely destroyed although it remains unclear if it had been targeted specifically.

Several other army checkpoints were attacked in Al-Arish — a tourist resort on the main road to Gaza — followed by attacks and roadside bombs at checkpoints in Rafah and Suez, resulting in numerous casualties.

The Egyptian military was the target of the simultaneous attacks which have been claimed by Sinai Province, an Egyptian militant group aligned to Islamic State, the hardline Sunni terrorists that have seized control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The attacks coincide with commemorations around the anniversary of the country's 2011 uprising which saw the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak after nearly three decades in power.

Egypt’s government faces an Islamist insurgency based in Sinai where militants have killed hundreds of security officers since president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was removed from power in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

The last major attacks in Egypt were on 24 October when militants killed 33 members of the security forces in Sinai, a remote but strategic peninsula bordering the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt’s Suez Canal.