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Apr 2, 5:16 AM EDT

Security officials: Sinai attack kills 15 Egyptian troops

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CAIRO (AP) -- Islamic militants on Thursday attacked an army checkpoint in the restive north of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 15 soldiers and wounding 19, security officials said.

They said four other attacks on army checkpoints at about the same time killed two civilians and wounded 10 more. The four attacks appeared to have been aimed at diverting attention from the main assault on the checkpoint south of the turbulent town of Sheikh Zuweid, said the officials.

Militants have staged increasingly complex attacks and ambushes despite a large-scale military campaign to suppress the growing insurgency in northern Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Attacks mainly targeting Egyptian security forces have spiked since the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi following massive protests against his divisive rule. Most of the biggest attacks have been claimed by a Sinai-based group that pledged allegiance to the extremist Islamic State last year.

The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

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