At least 20 Egyptian security forces were killed when suspected militants attacked checkpoints in North Sinai on Wednesday, security sources said, in one of the biggest coordinated assaults in the province.
Five checkpoints were attacked by about 70 militants, an army spokesman said, adding that 22 of the attackers had been killed and 10 soldiers killed or wounded.
The sources said a police station was also targeted and that 20 members of the security forces were killed, without specifying whether they were all soldiers.
North Sinai is the epicentre of an insurgency seeking to topple the Cairo government. Hundreds of policemen and soldiers have been killed in attacks since the army toppled Islamist president Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule in 2013.
The most active militant group in the region is Sinai Province, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
That group had urged its followers to escalate attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan which started in mid-June, though it did not specify Egypt as a target.
Earlier this week, Egypt’s top public prosecutor was assassinated in a car bomb attack on his convoy in Cairo, raising questions about the country’s ability to contain the insurgency.
Tuesday also marked the second anniversary of protests that preceded the ouster of Mursi.