Islamic militants attacked a remote Egyptian army outpost in the Sinai Peninsula with a suicide car bomb and heavy machine gun fire on Friday, killing at least 23 soldiers in the deadliest attack in the turbulent region in two years.
After nightfall, the Islamic State group issued a claim of responsibility, saying in an online statement that it had carried out the attack as the Egyptian army was preparing an assault on IS positions in Sinai.
The coordinated attack suggested the Sinai-based militants are among the region’s most resilient, after IS in Iraq and Syria, where the so-called caliphate is now witnessing its demise. And it underscored the struggles Egyptian forces face in trying to rein in the insurgency.
Egypt has for years battled militants in Sinai, where the jihadis have exploited the vast arid and underdeveloped region and its disgruntled Bedouin population as an ideal incubator for Islamic militancy even before the IS affiliate has emerged at the forefront of the insurgency.