A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into one of two buses carrying off-duty soldiers in Egypt’s turbulent northern Sinai region, killing 10 and seriously wounding 35, military officials said.
They said the bomber struck as the buses travelled between the border town of Rafah and the coastal city of el-Arish. The explosion damaged bothvehicles. The 10 victims were the bus’s driver, three members of a security detail and six of the off-duty soldiers, according to a statement by Colonel Mohammed Ahmed Ali, a military spokesman.
“The precious blood of our sons strengthens our resolve to cleanse Egypt and shield its sons from violence and treacherous terrorism,” he wrote on his Facebook page. The wounded were being treated in military hospitals, he said.
The soldiers belong to the 2nd Field Army, which is doing most of the fighting against Islamic militants waging an insurgency against security forces in Sinai. The buses were on their way to Cairo, the officials said.
The northern Sinai region, which borders Gaza and Israel, has been restless for years, but attacks have grown more frequent and deadlier since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in July.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but suicide car bombings are a signature method by militant groups linked to or inspired by al-Qaida. It was the latest in a series of similar attacks targeting army and police facilities and checkpoints. In August, gunmen pulled 25 police conscripts off minibuses in the Sinai and shot them dead by the side of the main road linking Rafah to el-Arish.
Northern Sinai’s violence occasionally has spilled over into cities in the southern part of the peninsula as well as mainland Egypt, targeting police, soldiers and politicians. In September, the Interior Minister, who is in charge of the police, survived an assassination attempt by a suicide carbomber. Earlier this week, a senior security officer who monitors Islamist groups, including Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, was shot dead as he drove in Cairo’s eastern Nasr City district.