IS militants in Sinai claim that they have carried out a missile attack on an Egyptian naval vessel in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday.
An Egyptian military spokesman confirmed the ship had caught fire after an exchange with “terrorists” on the shore, but there was no mention of rockets.
However, security officials said an unspecified number of crew members suffered injuries from the fire and that several of them jumped overboard to escape the raging fire.
Pictures posted online by the group Sinai Province purport to show a missile or rocket attack and explosion on the vessel.
A Reuters witness in Gaza saw a plume of dark grey smoke rising from a boat off the coast.
The Islamic State group, referred as ISIS/ISIL and Daesh in Arabic, also claimed responsibility for a recent attack on Italian consulate in Cairo. Its claim of responsibility for Thursday’s attack on the vessel is the second in as many days for major operations, or attempted ones.
It follows a wave of attacks on the Egyptian military by Sinai Province.
Egypt’s Islamic State affiliate said it was behind the incident, claiming the car’s driver was a suicide bomber who had detonated his explosives, killing several soldiers.
CNN was unable to verify the authenticity of the photographs or the group’s account of what happened.
An AFP photographer and a witness in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, just across the border, said the boat was struck at least three kilometres (two miles) from shore. The waters are also occasionally used to transport army and other political personnel in Egypt. The waters which were once safe are now in the middle of the crossfire between the army and the terrorist groups. The sea route avoids the overland journey through Sinai, where Islamic militants target government forces. The State of Sinai, formerly known as Ansar Bait El-Maqdis, released photos of what appeared to be a flying object heading toward and then striking the ship.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
“Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar ordered the removal of Cairo police chief General Osama Bedair, and assigned General Khalid Abdel Aal to replace him”, the statement said.