At least 50 Egyptian soldiers have died after Islamist militants unleashed a wave of simultaneous attacks on army checkpoints in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, security and military officials said.
The attack was claimed by ISIS affiliate in the region, which said its fighters targeted 15 army and police positions and staged three suicide bombings, two of which targeted checkpoints and one that hit an officers' club in the nearby city of el-Arish.
The authenticity of the claim could not be immediately verified by NBC News but it was posted on a Facebook page associated with the group.
The assaults came a day after Egypt's president pledged to step up the battle against Islamist militants and two days after the country's state prosecutor was assassinated in Cairo.
The scope and intensity of the attacks underscored the resilience and advanced planning by the militants who have for years battled Egyptian security forces in northern Sinai but intensified their insurgency over the past two years just as the government threw more resources into the drawn-out fight.
The militants also took soldiers captive and seized weapons and several armored vehicles, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
At least 54 other soldiers were wounded, the officials said, adding that as fighting raged, an army Apache gunship destroyed one of the armored carriers captured by the militants as they were driving it away.