CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cut short a visit to Ethiopia for an African Union summit on Friday, after Islamic State’s Egyptian wing claimed the killing of at least 30 security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula.
Sisi’s office said in a statement that Sisi would return to Cairo after Friday morning’s opening session.
The four separate attacks on security forces in North Sinai on Thursday night were among the bloodiest in years.
Most of the casualties occurred in the bombing of a military hotel and base in the heavily guarded provincial capital, al-Arish.
Security sources in Sinai said three military planes left al-Arish for Cairo on Friday morning carrying 30 body bags, some of them containing dismembered corpses.
They said at least five men were in critical condition and the death toll was likely to rise.
An insurgency based in the Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip, has intensified since the army ousted president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013 after mass protests.
Hundreds of members of the security forces have been killed.
The Brotherhood denies links to the insurgents but the government makes no distinction between them.
The most active group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, changed its name to Sinai Province last year when it swore allegiance to Islamic State, the hardline militant group that has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, drawing US-led air strikes.
Soldiers and police are frequently targeted at remote outposts outside Sinai’s main towns, but the attack on military facilities in al-Arish could signal an escalation in their capabilities, said Zack Gold of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.