Report: Sinai attacks kill 20 Egyptian soldiers; ISIS claims responsibility
CAIRO – In a dramatic demonstration of its expanding reach, ISIS apparently launched simultaneous attacks Wednesday on five Egyptian military checkpoints, killing 20 Egyptian soldiers and injuring 30 others.
At last report, clashes on the Sinai Peninsula were continuing. A spokesman for the Egyptian military said 22 terrorists had been killed.
ISIS — the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — was known until not long ago exclusively for its activities in those two countries.
But it has claimed responsibility in the last week for a drumbeat of attacks in a range of countries: the deadly bombing of a mosque in Kuwait last Friday, the horrific beachfront killings in Tunisia the same day, and now five coordinated military attacks in Egypt.
A deadly claim on Twitter
ISIS claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attacks in statements posted on Twitter.
The toll of those attacks — 20 soldiers killed and 30 others injured — was reported by Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram online media outlet.
A spokesman for the Egyptian military, Mohammed Samir Abdelaziz Ghaneem, said the clashes between ISIS and Egyptian soldiers were continuing. Egyptian military forces were continuing to chase the terrorists, he said.
Ghaneem posted on his Facebook page: “70 terrorists attacked 5 checkpoints simultaneously in North Sinai.”
The Sinai borders the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Israel to the east. It is the only part of Egypt that lies in Asia rather than Africa.
The toll: 38 dead in Tunisia, at least 27 in Kuwait
Last Friday, a gunman with apparent ties to ISIS roamed a Tunisian beachfront, shooting 38 people to death and leaving others wounded. Police shot and killed the gunman.
And in Kuwait that same day, a bomber also apparently linked to ISIS blew himself up inside a mosque during Friday prayers, killing at least 27 people.
ISIS’ expanding reach is worrying officials concerned about keeping their populations safe. The interior ministers of Germany, Britain and France traveled to Tunisia this week to meet with that country’s interior minister.
They pledged continued work on finding ways to thwart attacks and, in the words of British Home Secretary Theresa May, “to fight against this perverted ideology that is causing this death and destruction.”
CNN’s Sarah Sirgany and Salim Essaid contributed to this report.
By Don Melvin