CAIRO (IINA) – Ten people including women and children were killed in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday when a rocket struck their home, security and medical official said. It was not immediately clear whether it was a rocket fired by one of the Egyptian army helicopters that have repeatedly struck militants or an errant mortar bomb from the insurgents, security officials said. Three children, three women and four men in the house south of the Rafah border town were killed in the blast, medics said.
They have not yet been identified. The military is battling an Islamist militant insurgency in the peninsula that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers, since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohammad Mursi last year and cracked down on his supporters.
The leading militant group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group. Ansar claimed credit for an attack on a checkpoint in October in which a suicide bomber blew up a car and then militants combed the ruins to shoot dead the survivors.
The government declared a state of emergency in parts of north Sinai after that attack and is raising homes to create a buffer zone with the neighboring Palestinian Gaza Strip. Civilians in the mostly Bedouin towns of Sinai had been caught in the crossfire before, with several killed by an errant mortar round.
The army has launched a massive crackdown against armed groups in Sinai area that has killed scores of policemen and soldiers, since the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi last year. It has demolished hundreds of homes along the border with the Gaza strip, stoking tensions with area residents.
Egypt announced the demolition plan last month after fighters killed 31 Egyptian troops in an assault on a checkpoint 30km from Rafah. Earlier this month a prominent Sinai-based group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which claimed responsibility for that attack, announced its allegiance to the ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Civilians in the mostly Bedouin towns of Sinai had been caught in the crossfire before, with several killed by an errant mortar round.