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Oct 24, 10:02 AM EDT

Suicide bomber kills 10 soldiers in Egypt

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EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) -- A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into an army checkpoint in the restive northern part of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula near Israel and Gaza on Friday, killing 10 soldiers, according to medical and security officials.

They said the death toll is expected to rise because 17 people were wounded and several were in critical condition. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.

Islamic militants have been battling security forces in the Sinai for a decade, but the violence spiked after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 amid massive protests demanding his resignation. The attacks have also spread to other parts of Egypt, with militants targeting police in Cairo and the Nile delta.

The government has blamed the violence on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group and launched a sweeping crackdown against his supporters, killing hundreds in street clashes and jailing some 20,000 people.

The Brotherhood officially renounced violence decades ago and has denied involvement in the recent attacks, saying it is committed to peaceful protests demanding Morsi's reinstatement.

Most of the major attacks have been claimed by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, an al-Qaida-inspired group based in Sinai.

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