Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a set of simultaneous attacks on Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula Wednesday morning, leaving at least 50 soldiers dead, Egyptian security officials said.
The Islamic State’s affiliate in Egypt, the Sinai Province, formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the attacks on Twitter, Reuters reported.
The group claimed to have struck more than 15 army and police targets, including carrying out three suicide attacks.
Israel’s Ynet News quoted an Egyptian military statement that said 70 militants had taken part in attacks on five checkpoints.
The Egyptian military said 22 militants were killed in the ensuing clashes.
The AP reported that all of the targets were in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, except for an officer’s club in the city of el-Arish.
According to Egyptian security sources quoted by Ynet, the militants also kidnapped soldiers and seized armored vehicles.
It was unclear whether there were still soldiers being held captive.
The Muslim holiday of Ramadan has been marked by bloody attacks by Islamist militants, including deadly attacks in Tunisia, France, Yemen, the West Bank and now Egypt.
Egypt’s Youm7 news site reported that the area was rocked by the sounds of explosions as Muslims began fasting for the day Wednesday morning.
The AP noted that the attacks came one day after Egypt’s president vowed to wage a battle against Islamist militants. It was also two days after Egypt’s state prosecutor was assassinated.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that in response to the attacks, Israel closed the Nitzana and Kerem Shalom border crossings into Egypt.