A roadside bomb targeting a Central Security Forces vehicle in Rafah wounded eight conscripts and one civilian on Monday morning, reported the state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA).
The explosive detonated near the Reesa checkpoint on the Arish-Rafah International Road.
Security forces told MENA that the bomb appeared to have targeted this vehicle in particular. Police and Armed Forces went in pursuit of the attackers, and exchanged gunfire with the suspects.
Traffic on the road was halted until the injured were transported away from the scene and the damaged vehicle was removed.
The Reesa checkpoint was ambushed earlier in September, when attackers allegedly exchanged gunfire with police and army personnel. No casualties were reported in that incident. The strategically located checkpoint has been attacked more than 45 times since the January 25 revolution, according to the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY).
On Sunday, Armed Forces spokesperson Ahmed Ali held a news conference to share the results of the military’s ongoing counterinsurgency operation in Sinai targeting radical and terrorist strongholds.
Sinai has witnessed deadly attacks on police stations and military checkpoints by unknown militants for the last three years. Such incidents intensified after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi by the military on July 3.
On August 19, 24 Central Security conscripts were shot dead in Arish pursuant to an attack by armed gunmen at a checkpoint, a Ministry of Interior statement reported. The conscripts were heading back to their base in Rafah after a holiday when they were attacked at the Abou Tawila checkpoint, the statement said.
The military has intensified its operations in Sinai, but details of the outcome of these operations remain unclear. Media has faced difficulties reporting on the area. AMAY’s correspondent in North Sinai, Ahmed Abu Deraa, is currently facing military trial for his reporting on the operations.
During Sunday’s presser, Ali said that around 309 people belonging to radical takfiri groups had been arrested since the launch of the security operation in July, and heavy weapons including RPGs, machine guns and hand grenades had been confiscated.
He further claimed 601 homes, seven arm stores and 203 vehicles carrying weapons were destroyed in the operation. The crackdown is necessary after several attempts to negotiate with Sinai militants had failed, Ali asserted, adding that the operation is not only fighting terrorism but also illegal immigration and arms smuggling.
Sinai residents have long accused the central government of political and economic marginalization, which is usually described as a context for increasing militancy and lawlessness in the peninsula.