Three non-commissioned police officers and a taxi driver were killed on Wednesday morning by armed militants in El-Masseid in Al-Arish city, a North Sinai-based journalist told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity.
The three officers were in a taxi when militants on motorbikes opened fire on them and the driver. The three police officers died on the scene, while the driver died as he was being transferring to the nearest hospital, the journalist clarified.
Contrary to this, the Ministry of Interior asserted that the perpetrators used a car to carry out the attack, according to a statement it published Wednesday afternoon.
An official in the ministry’s media office stated: “anonymous militants used a private vehicle on Wednesday morning to carry out an armed attack against taxi transporting three police officers in Al-Arish. The militants opened fire on them which resulted in the death of all officers and the driver.”
The police forces imposed strict security checkpoints in the vicinity of the attack, and are currently performing a security sweep of the area to arrest the perpetrators, the statement added.
The attack is believed to have been carried out by the militant group “Sinai Province”, which actively conducts similar attacks on a regular basis, the North Sinai-based journalist asserted.
On Wednesday, “Sinai Province” published photos of its members allegedly in the North Sinai desert. The militants were holding and using artillery and, according to the captions, they are ready to curb expected attacks by the army.
Army and police forces in North Sinai are being targeted on an almost daily basis in different types of attacks—most of them carried out using improvised explosive devices (IED).
The Islamic State-affiliated militants are mainly based in North Sinai from where they launch attacks against army and police checkpoints. Since 2013, following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, they have launched several deadly attacks against army stationing points.
In 2014, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched a counter-insurgency campaign targeting militants in North Sinai, though the group still represents a “chronic headache” to the current regime.