CAIRO — Gunmen killed 21 Egyptian military border guards near the frontier with Libya on Saturday, highlighting a growing threat from an area that authorities say has become a haven for militants seeking to topple the Cairo government. Security officials said the assailants were smugglers. But the army spokesman said on his Facebook page that "terrorists" — the term authorities use to describe Islamist militants — were behind the attack. He said a weapons storage facility was blown up by a rocket-propelled grenade in an exchange of fire, killing the soldiers and wounding four others.
The attack took place in Wadi al-Gadid governorate, which borders both Sudan and Libya. Two smugglers were killed in clashes with the guards, security officials said. Sinai militants have stepped up attacks against policemen and soldiers since then-army chief Sisi toppled President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last summer and launched fierce attacks on Islamists. Hundreds have been killed in shootings and bombings.