Militants struck more than a dozen army and police targets in the restive Sinai Peninsula with simultaneous attacks involving a car bomb and mortar rounds yesterday, killing at least six people and wounding 30 others, officials said.
The wide-ranging attacks struck the Northern Sinai provincial capital el-Arish, the nearby town of Sheik Zuwayid and the town of Rafah bordering Gaza, pointing to a previously unseen level of coordination.
An Islamic State affiliate previously known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has launched several attacks against the police and the army in recent years, particularly following the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
The officials said yesterday's attacks included at least one car bomb set off outside a military base and mortar rounds fired at a hotel, a police club and more than a dozen checkpoints. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
The state news agency MENA said more than one car bomb was used in the attacks, without elaborating.
The explosions smashed windows and shook residential areas in el-Arish.
The areas where the attacks took place have been under a state of emergency and a curfew since October, when militants killed dozens of soldiers in a deadly attack on a checkpoint in Sinai.
Earlier yesterday, dozens of Egyptian women rallied to protest the killing of a female protester during a peaceful protest last week, accusing the police of shooting her and demanding her killers be brought to justice. The protest was the first public rally against the slaying of 32-year-old activist and mother Shaimaa el-Sabbagh. It followed a storm of criticism of police tactics and of the 2013 protest law which criminalised unauthorised protests, empowering police to deny permits or use force to disperse them.
Since the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against him, authorities have cracked down on critics. Thousands have been imprisoned on charges of violating the protest law, while hundreds have been killed in the violent dispersal of rallies.
The organisers of yesterday's rally defied the protest law by not seeking permission from authorities.
The police were out in force, but the demonstration, attended by more than 100 women, ended peacefully.