A pair of suicide bombers rammed their explosives-laden cars into military targets in Egypt's volatile Sinai
on Wednesday, killing at least nine soldiers and wounding 17 people, security officials said.
"A large explosion" targeted the military intelligence headquarters in Rafah
on the border with the Gaza Strip, one official said.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a radical al-Qaeda-linked terror group active in the Sinai Peninsula claimed they attacked the Egyptian army Wednesday. In the statement published by the group they did not take direct responsibility for the Rafah attack.
Meanwhile, Germany's DPA news agency reported that an Israeli envoy is in Cairo for a brief visit an is set to meet Egyptian defense officials to discuss developments in the Sinai Peninsula. According to the report, the envoy arrived in Cairo on a private jet together with two aides.
Witnesses said the powerful blast shattered the windows of other buildings in the Imam Ali area in Rafah where the military building is located.
Minutes later, a second explosion hit an army checkpoint nearby.
The attacks come just days after an al-Qaeda
inspired group in the peninsula claimed credit for a Cairo bombing that targeted the interior minister last week, pledging more attacks.
The military has poured troops and armor into Sinai to crush an insurgency that surged after the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi
on July 3.
A subsequent crackdown on Islamists by authorities left hundreds dead.
In its statement, the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group - Partisans of Jerusalem in English - had blamed interior minister Mohammed Ibrahim and army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the killings of hundreds of Morsi's supporters.
"We call on all Muslims in Egypt to stay away from all military and interior ministry installations to preserve their lives," the group said.
Roi Kais, AP and AFP contributed to this report
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