18 police recruits injured in Egypt’s Sinai bus blast

At least 18 police recruits were injured on Sunday during a blast that targeted their bus in northern Sinai province, according to medical sources.

An explosive device hit their bus on a coastal highway in Arish city of Egypt’s restive North Sinai province, bordering the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Israel, medical sources in Arish told Xinhua.

“Most of the injuries were cuts and bruises, and some of the recruits have been discharged from the hospital after treatment,” the medics added.

Meanwhile, a security source told Xinhua that three recruits were injured on Sunday by sniper shots at different checkpoints in Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid cities in North Sinai.

Militant activities have mounted in Egypt since the army ousted former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Hundreds of police and army personnel have been killed since then, especially in the Sinai Peninsula.

The authorities have taken various measures to combat rising terrorism in the region, including destroying smuggling tunnels and evacuating over 1,000 houses in Rafah city near the border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip to create a buffer zone.

On Sunday, Egypt started a three-month extension of the state of emergency that has been imposed on some parts of North Sinai since last October, following an attack on a military checkpoint in which about 33 soldiers were killed.

In early July, bloody terrorist attacks on several North Sinai checkpoints killed 17 military men, while the army raids on militants during the following few days killed over 250 of them.

The armed forces are continuing their massive operations in the peninsula, launching ground and air raids on the hideouts of extremists almost on a daily basis.

The al-Qaida-inspired Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis militant group, which is based in Sinai and has changed its name to “Sinai State,” has vowed loyalty to the regional Islamic State militant group. It has claimed responsibility for most of the anti-government attacks.