CAIRO (AP) — An elaborate attack by Islamic militants, including a suicide car bombing, targeted a hotel in the city of El-Arish in the restive north of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday, killing two policemen and a judge, and wounding 12 others, according to a military statement.
It said troops and policemen guarding the Swiss Inn hotel in El-Arish opened fire on the explosives-laden car as it approached the building, blowing it up before it reached the hotel. In the meantime, two militants slipped inside the hotel. One detonated an explosives vest in the hotel’s kitchen, while the second opened fire in a hotel room.
The statement said all militants involved in the attack were killed, but gave no other details.
The attack took place the day after the second round of parliamentary elections. Judges who supervised the vote in Sinai were staying in the heavily guarded hotel.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, however its sophistication points to militants led by the local affiliate of the Islamic State group, which has carried out similar attacks in the past.
Tuesday’s attack came less than four weeks after a Russian passenger airliner crashed in northern Sinai, killing all 224 people onboard. Russia has said an explosive device placed onboard the Airbus 321-200 was to blame for the Oct. 31 crash, which took place 23 minutes after takeoff from the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in southern Sinai.
The local IS branch claimed responsibility for the crash and posted a photo purportedly showing the bomb used to down the plane. The crash led Russia to suspend all flights to and from Egypt, while Britain suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh. The suspensions have dealt a severe blow to Egypt’s vital tourism industry, deepening the country’s economic woes.
Egypt has been battling militants in Sinai for years, but their insurgency has gained steam since the ouster in 2013 of the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president. His ouster by the military was led by then-defense minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who last year was elected president.
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