A suicide bomber on Wednesday rammed his explosives-laden car into the military intelligence headquarters in a border town in Egypt’s volatile Sinai.
The attack left at least three soldiers dead and 20 people wounded , security officials said.
Eyewitnesses said the powerful explosion shattered the windows of other buildings in the Imam Ali area in Rafah.
Shortly afterwards, militants targeted an army checkpoint, firing rocket-propelled grenades, reports said.
The attack nudged the violence in the strategic Sinai Peninsula closer to a full-blown insurgency, compounding Egypt’s woes at a time when the country is struggling to regain political stability and economic viability more than two years since longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising.
On Monday, Egypt’s state news agency MENA cited unnamed senior security officials as saying at least six militant groups with an estimated 5,000 members operate in Sinai. The militants use mountains in north and central Sinai as hideouts, where the rugged terrain is difficult to search.