At least nine people were killed on Wednesday in twin car bombing attacks on security personnel in Rafah city in Egypt's North Sinai, while the army poured more troops to quell the violence in the restive peninsula.
Armed Forces spokesman Ahmed Aly said:" Islamist terrorist elements carried out a treacherous attack against military premises by using two cars loaded with large quantities of explosives."
In a statement posed on the armed forces Facebook page, Aly said that seven people who were injured are civilians including three women.
Meanwhile, a security source told Xinhua the bombing attack was carried out by two suicide bombers. The first targeted the army intelligence headquarters in Rafah, while the second exploded himself several kilometers away from the intelligence premises.
A number of buildings in the area were damaged, the source added.
Among the nine victims, seven are soldiers and two bodies belong to the suspects who launched the suicide bombings, the source said.
The dark skin of the suspects implied that they may be of African origin, the source added, pointing out that the explosives are complicated which could not be made by the Sinai-based terrorist groups.
At the same time, the armed forces deployed more troops in Sinai to eradicate the hideouts of the extremists who staged daily attacks on the army checkpoints and police stations since ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3.
Sinai-based Islamist militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The group said in a statement posed on its official website that it had killed more than six soldiers in the last couple of days and it was behind the assassination against Egypt's interior minister last week in Cairo. It promised more attacks in revenge for the military operation against Morsi's supporters on Aug. 14.
The group called on all Muslims in Egypt to stay away from military and interior ministry institutions.
After Wednesday attacks, the Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing point bordering the Gaza Strip.
"We were told that Rafah border crossing point is closed because of the security situation in Sinai," an officer at the Gaza Strip side of the crossing told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Nearly 30 militants have been killed and dozens arrested in military raids since Saturday.
The conservative Salafist al-Nour Party denounced the murder of Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. In a press release, its party leader Galal Murra said that all parties concerned should work for rescuing Sinai from a dark future.
Also the liberal Dostoor party strongly denounced the attack, and vowed full support for the armed forces to save Sinai from terrorism.
Condemning the attack, Al-Azhar, Egypt's top Sunni Islamic institution, called in a statement for an immediate move to take all necessary and firm procedures to provide security for the citizens and the state's vital institutions, and curb outlaws and saboteurs in Sinai.
The government should hit them with an iron hand to protect Sinai and Egyptian sovereignty, the statement added.