A bomb targeting a bus carrying soldiers exploded and injured 18 conscripts on Sunday morning in the North Sinai town of Al-Arish, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement.
Security forces secured the blast site and combed the area in search of further explosive devices.
The ministry stated that the wounded only suffered minor injuries from the blast, claiming they all were in a stable condition and were transferred to hospital for further treatment.
“Islamic State” affiliated group “State of Sinai” claimed responsibility for the bombing later the same day. The military spokesperson has yet to release a statement about the attack.
Another explosion on Saturday in a village near the town of Sheikh Zuweid, also in North Sinai, injured a nine-year-old child, who was taken to hospital with a thigh injury, the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported. Whether the explosion was caused by a bomb or by accident remains unclear. Meanwhile, a second civilian was checked into hospital with a gunshot wound in Rafah.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb announced the extension of the state of emergency in North Sinai to be implemented starting Sunday. The state of emergency has been extended for a further three months, as has the night time curfew.
The decision to first establish the state of emergency in the regions of Rafah, Al-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid came in October 2014 after an attack by “State of Sinai” killed 33 security personnel. The move has since then been repeatedly extended by three months. A number of residents had called the extension “pointless” when the latest extension was decided in April.
“State of Sinai” claimed several other attacks, which have killed or injured many soldiers, whilst the Egyptian army claims to have killed hundreds of militants during the last few months. The most recent attack took place last week, killing four soldiers near Rafah.
Furthermore, a widely condemned attack in June claimed the lives of about 17 soldiers and of a bigger number of militants after the military deployed attack helicopters and fighter jets to the area.
Government representatives stated that the conflicting death tolls reported by the media during the incident were “undermining public morale”, driving the cabinet to draft a new anti-terror-law which would make the publishing of figures other than the official ones illegal.
Terrorist attacks in Northern Sinai have been on the rise since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, and have primarily targeted security forces and the state as well as judiciary representatives.
Even though the security forces have repeatedly stated that Sinai is under full army control, attacks frequently occur in the northern parts of the peninsula.