CAIRO, April 2 (UPI) -- At least 15 soldiers and two civilians have been killed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula after militants opened fire on military checkpoints on Thursday.
Seven militants reportedly died in the gunfire exchange. Responsibility for the attack has not been claimed, but there have been multiple attacks in the region by Islamic State affiliate Sinai Province, previously known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis before pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Sinai Province has launched continued attacks since former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in 2013. The group claimed responsibility for an attack in the peninsula that killed about 30 people in January.
A state of emergency has been in effect in northern Sinai since October after another attack on a military checkpoint killed more than 30 soldiers. Egyptian security forces claim to have killed about 172 militants since February.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced Tuesday the resumption of military shipments and aid to Egypt in an effort to improve relations since imposing an arms freeze in October 2013. Obama spoke on the phone with Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi, pledging his support.
Obama also said that military assistance to Egypt will be channeled into four categories: counterterrorism, border security, maritime security and Sinai (Peninsula) security.