An officer and 10 soldiers were killed while trying to stop an attack by armed fighters on a water-lifting station, the military said.

At least 11 Egyptian military personnel were killed in the armed attack on the Sinai Peninsula, an Egyptian military spokesman said, adding that security forces “thwarted a terrorist attack on a water-lifting station east of the Suez Canal”.

Five security personnel were also injured in the attack. “Terrorists are being hunted and besieged in a remote area of ​​the Sinai Peninsula,” the spokesman added in a statement Saturday.

No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s ambush, one of the deadliest attacks on Egyptian security forces in recent years.

Last week, suspected armed men blew up a gas pipeline in the town of Bir Abd in the northern Sinai, setting off a fire, but no casualties were reported.

Egypt has been battling armed groups loyal to ISIL (ISIS) in the Sinai Peninsula after the military overthrew Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, in 2012. The group intensified.

main focus of armed attack

In August, the military said 13 fighters were killed in clashes on the Sinai Peninsula, with nine soldiers “killed and wounded,” but did not say when the fighting took place.

Pipelines that transport Egyptian oil and gas to neighboring Israel and Jordan have been the main focus of armed attacks in recent years.

In November, Egypt struck a deal with Israel to increase the number of troops near the border town of Rafah to quell armed groups.

The pace of armed attacks on the Sinai Peninsula and elsewhere has slowed to a trickle since February 2018, when the military launched a massive operation in the region, as well as in parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along the country’s western border with Libya .

Official figures show that more than 1,000 suspected fighters and dozens of security personnel have been killed since the operation began.

Fighting against armed groups in the Sinai peninsula is largely out of the public eye, with journalists, non-residents and outside observers barred from entering the area.

The conflict has also distanced itself from tourist attractions on the southern tip of the peninsula.