3 Egyptian soldiers killed, 6 injured by roadside bomb in northern Sinai

Three Egyptian soldiers were killed and six others wounded on Saturday after an explosive device struck their armored vehicle in the city of al-Arish in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

Egyptian security sources said that the roadside explosive device was detonated by gunmen affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) in al-Arish.

The sources identified one of the three who were killed in the incident as Mahmoud Hasan Mustafa, 22, from Port Said in northeastern Egypt.

The injured soldiers were identified as Ali Mahmoud Ahmad, 21 from al-Minya, Sayyid Jamal Abd al-Rahman, 22 from Cairo, Tariq Majdi Abd al-Minem, 26 from Hilwan, Omar Anwar Mahmoud, 21 from Ismailiyya, Muhammad Ahmad Ibrahim, 22 from Ismailiyya, and Alaa Abd al-Fattah Abu Bakr, 22 from Naja Hamadi. All of the injured were evacuated to a military hospital in al-Arish.

On Thursday, three Egyptian army officers and seven Egyptian soldiers were killed after clashes erupted between the Egyptian army and armed militia groups during a military raid in in the central Sinai Peninsula.

A statement by the Egyptian army said at the time that army forces raided an “extremely dangerous terrorist spots” in the Sinai, where fire was exchanged with armed groups, leading to the death of 15 armed gunmen and the detention of seven others.

Fighting between the Egyptian government and the Sinai Province has escalated since Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi took power from Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, and has since left hundreds killed — including civilians, security forces, and alleged militants.

The Egyptian president came under attack following his violent suppression of Muslim Brotherhood members following his rise to power, which al-Sisi has argued is necessary to deter future attacks in the Sinai and across Egypt.

Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report saying that Egyptian internal security forces “may have extrajudicially executed at least four and perhaps as many as 10 men,” during a deadly raid on Jan. 13.

Egyptian authorities said at the time that the men were targeted for participating in killings and other attacks on security forces, and named six of the slain men, but did not identify the other four.

Investigations conducted by HRW indicated that Egyptian security forces “may have arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared the men and then staged a counter terrorism raid to cover up the killings.”

The group meanwhile highlighted that journalists and human rights groups are rarely able to investigate frequent and credible reports of abuse because the government denies them access to the region.

The January killings sparked rare protests in al-Arish against the Egyptian Interior Ministry during some of the men’s funerals.

Local leaders have have since demanded the immediate release of anyone held without charge, the resignation of North Sinai’s representatives in parliament, holding to account those responsible for the killings, and called for the creation of a government fact-finding committee to investigate the incident.