CAIRO, Egypt – Seven police conscripts and two civilians were wounded on Wednesday, May 21, in a bomb blast in the town of Al-Arish, the capital of Egypt's restive northern Sinai peninsula, security officials said.
A child was run over by a car in the aftermath of the attack, as panic erupted on the scene, the officials added.
Militants have stepped up assaults on security forces since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July and the military-installed authorities launched a deadly crackdown on his supporters.
Wednesday's attack targeted a police armored vehicle in Al-Arish's center, the officials said.
After the blast, gunfights erupted between the security forces and the assailants, who managed to escape, the officials added.
Most of the attacks have been taking place in the north of the mainly desert Sinai Peninsula, but militants have extended their reach to Cairo and the Nile Delta, carrying out a series of high-profile attacks in the heart of the capital.
The Al-Qaeda inspired Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) group has said its attacks have been in revenge for the crackdown on Morsi's supporters that has left at least 1,400 people dead, according to Amnesty International.
A little-known jihadist group, Ajnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt) has also claimed several attacks on police in Cairo.
The government says the militants have killed about 500 people, most of them security personnel.
54 Morsi supporters get life term
The attack happened on the same day that an Egyptian anti-terror court sentenced 54 Morsi supporters to life in prison for taking part in violent protests, judicial officials said.
The defendants, who stood trial in several cases, were convicted of belonging to a "terrorist" group, attempted murder, rioting, carrying out acts of violence, taking part in unlicensed protests and damaging public and private installations, the sources added.
Another 104 defendants, including 3 female students, were sentenced to jail terms of between one and 10 years over similar convictions.
Since the military ousted Morsi in July last year, his supporters have been staging weekly protests calling for his reinstatement.
The rallies have often degenerated into violent street clashes with security forces and civilian opponents.
In November, the military-installed authorities adopted a law banning all but police-sanctioned protests.
The interim government also blacklisted Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group in December, without providing any hard evidence of the group's involvement in deadly militant attacks targeting security forces since the Islamist's overthrow.
The group has condemned the violence and said repeatedly it is committed to peaceful protests.
At least 1,400 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in street clashes since Morsi's overthrow, and more than 15,000 have been jailed.