The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for yet another deadly attack in Egypt on Tuesday, this time at a security checkpoint leading up to a Christian monastery in South Sinai.
In a statement, Egypt's ministry of interior said that a group of militants fired at security troops stationed at the Mount Catherine checkpoint leading up to Saint Catherine's Monastery on top of the mountain. The attack left one policemen dead and four others injured, Ahram Online relays.
"The police forces exchanged fire with the militants until they gained control and forced the militants to flee," the ministry added.
Speaking to Ahram in an interview, health ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed revealed that the four policemen who sustained injuries were brought to the Sharm El-Sheikh International Hospital while the body of the dead policeman was moved to St. Catherine hospital.
An ISIS affiliate in Egypt has claimed responsibility for the attack at the Mount Catherine checkpoint, which lies only 800 meters from St. Catherine's Monastery's entrance. The monastery is part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, is a UNESCO world heritage site, and is one of the most important Christian sites in the world, Reuters notes.
For years, the Egyptian government has been fighting Islamist insurgency in northern Sinai, but such attacks in southern Sinai are uncommon. Dozens of Christian families have fled the northern province after a string of deadly attacks. The latest incident presents yet another challenge to Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's promise to combat extremism and protect the country's religious minority.
Meanwhile, Reuters has learned from security sources that security in tourist spots in southern Sinai has been raised to high alert after the deadly shootout at the Mount Catherine checkpoint.
In an unusual move, Israel had prohibited its citizens from crossing into Sinai earlier this month. The Israeli government cited the threat of ISIS and other similar groups in the peninsula as the reason for the ban.