By Khaled al-Jayoushi
CAIRO (AA): At least nine Egyptian policemen were killed Monday — and another ten injured — when a massive truck bomb exploded at a security checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, according to a local security source.
“Unidentified gunmen opened fire on police following the explosion,” the source told Anadolu Agency, speaking anonymously as he was not authorized to talk to media.
According to the same source, the attack targeted a security checkpoint in the Masaeed area of Al-Arish city, located in the peninsula’s northeast.
“A police building situated near the checkpoint was completely flattened by the blast,” he said.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for Monday’s deadly attack.
In Washington, the State Department strongly condemned the bomb and gun attack.
“We express our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and wish a quick recovery for the injured,” spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “The United States strongly supports Egypt’s security, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian government to counter terrorism.”
Since 2013, when Mohamed Morsi — Egypt’s first freely-elected president — was ousted in a military coup, hundreds of Egyptian security personnel have been killed amid an ongoing militant insurgency in Sinai.
Egyptian security forces continue to wage a fierce campaign — involving elements from both the police and army — against what they describe as Sinai-based “terrorist groups”.
Egypt’s army-backed authorities say they are battling the Welayat Sinai (“Province of Sinai”) group, which is alleged to have links with the Daesh terrorist organization.
*Anadolu Agency Washington Correspondent Michael Hernandez contributed to this report
[Map of Egypt by CIA. Public DOmain]