Insurgents struck more than a dozen army and police targets on Thursday in the restive Sinai Peninsula with simultaneous attacks involving a car bomb and mortar rounds, killing 30 security officers and wounding at least 60.
Officials said the attacks, which killed both army soldiers and at least one police officer, included a car bomb set off outside a military base and mortar rounds fired at a hotel, a police club and more than a dozen checkpoints.
The explosions smashed windows and shook residential areas in el-Arish.
Hours before the attack, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) affiliate in Egypt posted on its official Twitter account pictures of masked fighters dressed in black. They were carrying rocket-propelled grenades in a show of force, while flying ISIL's black flag.
The ISIL affiliate later took credit for Thursday's attacks on Twitter, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
At least 60 people were wounded in the attack, according to medical officials, who also confirmed the death toll. Officials said the death toll was expected to rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.
A group known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has launched several attacks against the police and the army in Sinai in recent years, particularly following the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. The areas where the most recent attacks took place have been under a state of emergency and a curfew since October, when fighters killed dozens of soldiers in a deadly attack on a checkpoint in Sinai.
In an attempt to stop weapons smuggling to and from the Gaza Strip, authorities have demolished houses and residential buildings located within 500 meters of the border, where a complex network of tunnels have been used to bring consumer goods, as well as weapons and fighters, to and from the Palestinian territory.
Sinai-based fighters have exploited long-held grievances in the impoverished north of the peninsula, where the mainly Bedouin population has complained of neglect by Cairo authorities and where few have benefited from the famed tourist resorts in the more peaceful southern part of the peninsula.
On Friday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cut short a visit to an African Union summit in Ethiopia, returning to Cairo in the aftermath of the attack, his administration said in a statement.
Al Jazeera and Associated Press