In Brief

Sinai attacks: Islamist militants kill 26 in Egyptian peninsula

Group which pledged allegiance to Islamic State carried out simultaneous attacks on military targets

A series of simultaneous attacks by Islamist militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula have left at least 26 people dead, many of them soldiers.

"Terrorist elements have attacked several police and army headquarters and facilities using explosive-laden vehicles and rockets," the Egyptian military told Al Jazeera.

A group known as the Sinai Province of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter. Its leaders were originally inspired by al-Qaeda, but have since pledged allegiance to IS and are calling on the public to rebel against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi (above).

The attacks, which were "the most complicated and widely coordinated" terrorist attacks in Egypt in recent years targeted key military points in the provincial capital El-Arish and the town of Sheik Zuwayid and Rafah, according to the New York Times. One of the offices of Egypt's flagship state newspaper, Al Ahram was also struck during the attack.  

There is an ongoing insurgency in the north east peninsula, with the number of attacks intensifying since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Yesterday's attack was the deadliest since insurgents killed 31 people at a military checkpoint in October.

Washington has condemned the attacks saying it remained "steadfast in its support of the Egyptian government's efforts to combat the threat of terrorism".

Following October's attack, the military responded by imposing a state of emergency in the region, demolishing 800 homes in the border town of Rafa and imposing strict curfews.

"They have displaced a lot of people, and that undoubtedly creates a lot of resentment and increases the atmosphere of permissiveness for this kind of violence," said Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The latest attacks "mean that the military does not control Sinai, as it claims," said Professor Khalil al-Anani, a US-based academic and expert on extremism. "The insurgency is getting stronger and stronger, and the government's strategy is a failure."

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