(CBS/AP) At least six security checkpoints in Egypt along the border with Israel were attacked Tuesday, just two days after 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed in similar attacks, according toEgyptian media.
State-run media reports 20 people were killed after the Egyptian military launched an aerial assault on the attackers, according to Reuters.
Egyptian security officials and residents say Egyptian military attack helicopters fired missiles on suspected Islamic militants. Security officials say it is the first time that the army has fired missiles in Sinai since Egypt’s 1973 war with Israel, which was an attempt to recapture the Sinai Peninsula.
Security officials tell The Associated Press that they launched the missile attack just hours after three security checkpoints were attacked by suspected Islamic militants in North Sinai’s main city of El-Arish, some 31 miles from the Gaza-Israel border.
Officials say six people were wounded in the attacks — among them a military officer, two soldiers, two policemen and a civilian whose condition is critical.
In addition to the checkpoints, attackers also targeted a cement production company in Sinai, Al Jazeera reports. At least two gunmen suspected in that attack have allegedly been arrested.
The rugged, rural desert region of Sinai that separates much of populated Egypt from Israel has seen a rise in lawlessness since former President Hosni Mubarak’s fall. Egyptian state media is reportedly saying the latest attacks are the 29th of its kind since the uprising that overthrew Mubarak.
In response to Sunday’s attacks, Egypt began sealing off smuggling tunnels to the Gaza Strip, fearing that militants were using them as a means to coordinate the attacks.
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