Explosion in Egypt's Sinai kills six soldiers

Military forces are seen in North Sinai, Egypt, Dec 1, 2017.
Military forces are seen in North Sinai, Egypt, Dec 1, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO (AFP) - Six Egyptian soldiers died when their vehicle exploded during a raid against "terrorists" in restless North Sinai province, the army said on Thursday (Dec 28).

"An officer and five soldiers died when an explosive device blew up their vehicle during a raid on a terrorist den," spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said in a statement.

In a separate operation, three Islamic militants were killed, he said, adding that they were in possession of weapons, ammunition and explosive devices.

Four vehicles belonging to the cell were also destroyed, killing the passengers inside.

He did not specify the date of either incident.

Militants have escalated their attacks on security forces since the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

They are particularly active in North Sinai province where a wing of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has a presence.

Hundreds of police and soldiers have been killed.

In November, suspected ISIS gunmen killed more than 300 Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Sinai associated with Sufi Muslims ISIS views as heretical.

After the mosque attack, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi instructed his military chief of staff to quell the attacks in three months using "brutal force".