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Seven Egypt troops wounded in Sinai blast

US says Egypt 'has the right' to a buffer zone for its security in Sinai amid allegations that Egyptian military is carrying out torture
Egyptian military vehicles and soldiers send reinforcements to Sinai on 27 October, 2014 (AA)

Seven Egyptian soldiers were wounded Friday in an explosion near El-Arish, a week after a deadly attack in the same area of the Sinai peninsula killed 30 soldiers, a security official said.

"Two officers and five soldiers were wounded in a bomb explosion against their vehicle south of El-Arish," the capital of North Sinai province, the source said.

The explosive device had been planted on a road used by army patrols and police.

On October 24, a suicide bomber killed 30 soldiers in the Sinai bordering the Gaza Strip.

Last week's attack was the deadliest targeting the security forces since the army toppled freely-elected president Mohamed Morsi in a coup in July last year.

Egyptian authorities on Wednesday began demolishing houses along its border with the Palestinian territory to set up a buffer zone.

The move will see about 800 homes razed.

US support

The United States said Thursday that Egypt has the right to use a buffer zone to boost its security.

"Certainly we believe that Egypt has the right to take steps to maintain their own security. And we understand the threat that they are facing from the Sinai," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

"We also continue to encourage them to take into account those that would be internally displaced by this," she added.

Washington has long insisted that Egypt is a key ally in the regional fight against militants.

Despite cutting off some aid to Cairo last year amid concerns about human rights abuses by the former military leaders, it has now released Apache helicopters specifically to be used to help secure the Sinai.

"They're working through the plan and we're continuing to support their efforts to take steps to defend their own borders," Psaki told reporters.

Torture allegations

The Egyptian military operations, however, are reportedly harming civilians in the Sinai, amid allegations of torture being carried out by the army.

Two people were reportedly killed after being tortured.

Critics of the Sinai offensive have been circulating a leaked video of Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi that dates back to before becoming president, whereby he had himself questioned the futility of involving the army as a solution to the unrest there.

(Tweet translation: You have only but God, Sinia. Hashtag Sinai under Egyptian raids)