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Egypt's Sinai Peninsula hit by deadly bomb attacks

BY: BBC
A huge crater opened up following the deadly blast in El-Arish

At least 13 people have been killed in separate bomb attacks in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, security forces have said.

At least six people died and 30 others were injured in an explosion outside a police station in El-Arish.

Elsewhere, seven soldiers lost their lives and two were wounded in an attack on an armoured vehicle, near the northern town of Sheikh Zuweid.

Militants from the Sinai Province group, affiliated to Islamic State, have said they carried out the attacks.

A statement on a Twitter page attributed to the group read: "An armoured personnel carrier for the army of the apostates was destroyed... killing and wounding all aboard."

Sinai has become increasingly lawless since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011. Insurgents have intensified attacks since his Islamist successor Mohammed Morsi was ousted in 2013.

North Sinai has been under a state of emergency and a curfew since October, when an attack on a checkpoint killed dozens of soldiers.

Major military operations in the region have so far failed to quell the violence.

Rubble

In El-Arish, residents said the neighbourhood shook as a bomb was detonated outside the police barracks, killing one civilian and five police officers.

In a statement on its Facebook page (in Arabic), the Egyptian interior ministry said a suicide bomber driving a pick-up truck was behind the attack.

"Forces opened fire at the vehicle, which consequently exploded," it added.

The three-storey building was badly damaged and security forces have been searching the rubble for further casualties.

Homes in the area were also destroyed, as doors were ripped off and windows shattered.

The Sinai Province group was known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis until it pledged allegiance to Islamic State in November.

It says it is seeking revenge for a police crackdown on Morsi supporters.

Since then it has carried out numerous deadly attacks on the peninsula, killing hundreds of police officers and soldiers, as well as civilians.

Sunday's attacks bring April's death toll to at least 41.