CAIRO (AP) — The latest on the aftermath of a coordinated militant assault on Egyptian security forces in the restive northern Sinai that killed dozens of troops and set off the bloodiest fighting in the peninsula in decades (all times local).
The Israeli prime minister has warned of the growing threat to the region from Islamic State militants and has expressed condolences to Egypt over the deadly IS-linked attacks in Sinai the day before.
Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that “we see in front of our eyes IS acting with extraordinary cruelty both in our northern border and at our southern border.”
He says: “Our hearts are with the Egyptian people, we send our condolences to the Egyptian government and the families of those who were killed in battle with the cruel terror.”
Egypt and Israel share a border in the Sinai and have cooperated in the past on cross-border militant threats.
Egyptian security officials say the military has killed 23 Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula in dawn air raids south of the north Sinai border town of Rafah.
They say the army was seeking out militants house to house on Thursday in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, and demining roads in and around the town that extremists had booby trapped with mines and improvised explosives devices.
An Associated Press reporter across the border in the Gaza Strip heard explosions and saw smoke rising in the area as airstrikes continued in the afternoon and warplanes roared overhead.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.
The raids came a day after militants hit military positions in northern Sinai. The army said 17 troops and 90 militants were killed, but security officials and media reports said dozens of soldiers and some 100 militants died in the fighting.
–Brian Rohan in Cairo
Egyptian security officials say gunmen shot and killed a security guard in front of a bank in Fayoum, 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Cairo.
It was not immediately clear if Thursday’s shooting was a criminal or militant attack. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.
It came a day after Islamic State-linked extremists swarmed military positions in northern Sinai, setting off battles that killed dozens of troops and some 100 militants.
Also, on Wednesday, Egyptian security forces killed nine members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, including a former lawmaker, in a raid on a Cairo residence. Egyptian officials said the forces were fired upon, while the Brotherhood said the men were “murdered in cold blood” and called for a rebellion.
–Brian Rohan in Cairo
A newspaper close to the Egyptian government says the Islamic State-linked militants who attacked troops in the Sinai Peninsula used sophisticated weaponry, including Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles.
In a graphic on its front page Thursday, el-Watan daily says the attackers also used mortars, anti-aircraft guns and other guided missiles.
The attack, which included a wave of suicide bombings and assaults on security installations by dozens of militants, was Sinai’s deadliest fighting in decades. Security officials said dozens of troops were killed, along with some 100 attackers.
Newspapers led their front pages with the attack, with many describing it as a “war.” Graphic photographs released by the military showed the bodies of extremists killed in the fighting who were wearing combat fatigues.