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The Egyptian authorities, for their part, say they are battling the Welayat Sinai ("Province of Sinai") group, which is alleged to have links with the Daesh terrorist organization.

The UAE in a foreign ministry statement described the attack as a "new crime that is added to the black record of terrorism and terrorists".

At least ten Egyptian soldiers including a colonel were killed in a suicide bomb attack on an army checkpoint in northern Sinai.

Militants killed at least 23 soldiers and injured dozens more in a vehicle explosion and gun attack on an Egyptian military checkpoint in north-eastern Sinai peninsula, officials have said. The officials initially put the death toll at 10 but later said more bodies were pulled from under the rubble of a nearby rest house for troops that was destroyed in the attack.

Security sources described Friday's attack as a coordinated strike, with auto bombs blowing apart checkpoints as gunmen in four-wheel drive vehicles shot down soldiers running for cover.

Security officials told the Associated Press that Friday's attack targeted a military compound in al-Barth, south-west of Rafah, where about 60 soldiers were based.

_Ashraf Sweilam in El-Arish, Egypt.

The statement added that the militants used auto bombs and heavy weaponry in their attacks, killing or injuring 26 soldiers.

The officials say that the Friday attack started when a suicide auto bomber rammed his vehicle into the checkpoint in southern Rafah village of el-Barth, followed by heavy shooting by dozens of masked militants on foot.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the media.

But over the past months, ISIS has focused its attacks on Egypt's Christian minority. It did not name their affiliation.