At least 15 terrorists and 12 Egyptian soldiers were killed today in a major attack on an army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, which has for years been battling Islamist insurgency. A group of suspected Islamists in 4x4 vehicles attacked an army security point in North Sinai, following which a gun-battle broke out between the forces and the terrorists, army spokesperson Brigadier General Mohamed Samir said. Egypt banned all 4x4 vehicles in army-operation zones in Sinai in July 2015. The militants targeted a military base about 80 kilometres east of the Suez Canal, local media reported. Apart from 15 militants and 12 soldiers killed, Samir said a number of terrorists and six security personnel were also injured in the attack. "The armed forces assert that these despicable acts will not deter it from its duty of protecting the great Egyptian people," Samir said in a statement. Security forces have launched combing operations in the area to find if any assailants escaped. Egypt has has been battling Islamist militancy that primarily targeted policemen, judges and military personnel. The militants are led by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. Since the 2011 revolution that toppled president Hosni Mubarak from power, North became the main stage of many violent attacks. The attacks increased after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following huge protests against his rule. More than 700 security personnel have been killed in violence since then. The military has launched security campaigns in the area, arrested suspects and demolished houses that belong to terrorists, including those facilitating tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip.
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