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Death toll in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula attacks rises to 19

The death toll from several armed attacks on checkpoints in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Thursday has climbed to 19, security sources said.

Seventeen soldiers and two civilians were killed and 19 people, including 10 civilians were wounded in the attacks.

Unidentified militants fired automatic rifles and rockets on five checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid city, said the official.

The official added that seven militants were killed during exchange of fire with security forces based in Qaber Omir, Kharouba, Sholaq, Al-Dar'b and Al-Gora, while several militants escaped.

The source said that the militants' main target was Kharouba checkpoint, which has a large number of security personnel and a large supply of arms and munitions; attacks on other targets were aimed at distracting the security forces.

Following the attacks, the Arish-Sheikh Zuweid road was sealed off, and security forces, with the help of Apache helicopters, searched the area, killing at least 15 alleged terrorists, the source added.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Sinai Peninsula has seen a spate of attacks on security forces since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the army in 2013 in response to mass protests against his rule.

Hundreds of police and army personnel were killed in the attacks, most of which were claimed by Sinai-based Ansar Bayet al-Maqdes group.

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