A bomb went off as two buses carrying Egyptian soldiers responsible for fighting Islamic insurgents in the Northern Sinai traveled between Rafah and El-Arish, Egypt. A car driven by two men had hit one of the buses, detonating the bomb. The ensuing explosion also damaged the second bus. At least 37 soldiers were injured and 11 were killed.
Although no one immediately claimed responsibility for the murders, al Qaeda has played an increasingly large role in terrorism in the Middle East, with homicide car bombings being a murder tool of choice.
The Associated Press reported that the buses, carrying soldiers from Egypt’s Second Field Army, were on their way to Cairo. The attack occurred at 8:45 a.m. local time.
Egypt’s Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi vowed to avenge the deaths as the caskets of the slain soldiers arrived at the Almaza military base in Cairo.
“People should know we are all ready to die in order for Egypt to stay alive,” he said.
It was the latest in a series of similar attacks targeting army and police facilities and checkpoints. In August, gunmen pulled 25 police novices off minibuses and shot them dead on the side of the main road linking Rafah to El-Arish.
The region is largely populated by Bedouins whose relations with the Cairo government is tense. Islamist militants have become increasingly active in the area.
Since the July overthrow of former Egyptian President, Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi, nearly 100 police officers and soldiers have been killed, as have more than 50 civilians.