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Sep 4, 10:37 AM EDT

Official: Bombs may have been targeting Sinai peacekeepers



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EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) -- International peacekeeping vehicles hit by roadside bombs in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula were painted white, different from the desert color scheme used by the Egyptian army, a mission official said Friday, suggesting they were targeted on purpose.

Four U.S. soldiers and two Fijians with the Multinational Force and Observers' peacekeeping mission were injured Thursday when their vehicles were hit during a routine patrol near their base in the town of el-Gorah, said the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The soldiers were airlifted to a medical facility and were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, the U.S. Defense Department said Thursday.

Egypt has been battling a long-running insurgency in the region that has grown since the 2011 popular uprising against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. After the army overthrew his successor, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, attacks surged. A local jihadi group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group last year, renaming itself Sinai Province and killing scores of soldiers.

Pro-Islamic State Twitter accounts recounted the attack, saying the wounded were evacuated to Israel. No group yet has claimed responsibility.

The mission of the Multinational Force and Observers is to support the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

"The safety and security of U.S. forces remains our top priority," the Pentagon said. The department did not identify the wounded personnel.

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