Militants scored two more successes in their campaign against the Egyptian government yesterday, killing 11 soldiers in north Sinai and penetrating Cairo's security cordon to strike at a police checkpoint.
The soldiers, part of a group being taken back to Cairo on leave, were killed when a car driven by a suicide bomber drove into one of the four buses carrying them between Rafah, on the border with the Gaza strip, and El-Arish, the main town in northern Sinai. Officials said 34 other soldiers were injured.
In the second attack in Egypt, a bomb was thrown at a police checkpoint in northern Cairo, injuring four officers.
Sinai has suffered sporadic attacks for some years, but they became worse after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak and amid the subsequent security vacuum.
At the same time, efforts were made to close down the smuggling networks into Gaza which had been the economic mainstay of the Rafah-Arish area.
A large-scale military response began in September, with the army regularly moving in to clear villages, arrest suspects and destroy the houses of alleged militants and smugglers.