Four American and two Multinational Force and Observer peacekeepers were injured Thursday in two explosions in Northeast Sinai, the Pentagon said.
The troops were hurt in two improvised explosive device explosions, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, director of press operations for the Defense Department, in a statement. Davis did not identify the injured service members in his statement, but did refer to them as "soldiers." The Army has about 750 soldiers deployed to the Sinai peninsula.
The injured troops were flown to a medical facility, where they were being treated for injuries that are not life-threatening.
An official from the Multinational Force and Observers' peacekeeping mission in Egypt's northern Sinai Peninsula said Friday their vehicles that were hit with explosive devices are similar to ones used by the Egyptian army, but were painted white.
The official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to reporters, said the vehicles were patrolling near their base in the town of el-Gorah town when the bomb exploded. He says the explosion injured four U.S. soldiers and two Fijians.
"The safety and security of U.S. forces remains our top priority, and we are committed to taking necessary steps for their protection," Davis said. "The United States continues to support the role of the Multinational Force and Observers in supporting the Treaty of Peace between Israel and Egypt."
The Army unit currently serving there is 1st Battalion, 112th Cavalry Regiment, known as Task Force Stallion, from the Texas Army National Guard.
Thursday's incident comes as the Obama administration is quietly reviewing the future of America's three-decade deployment to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, fearful the lightly equipped peacekeepers could be targets of escalating Islamic State-inspired violence, the Associated Press reported in mid-August. Options being considered range from beefing up their protection or pulling them out altogether, officials told the AP.
The American forces have helped marshal peace in the peninsula since Egypt's 1979 historic peace treaty with Israel, according to the AP. The troops there mainly monitor and verify compliance, and have little offensive capability. Several other countries also provide personnel.
Armed primarily with light weapons, armored personnel carriers and similarly limited materiel, the forces lack the capacity to take on Islamic State or other militants across the sparsely populated, desert territory. As a result, officials said, the Obama administration has been conducting an "interagency review" of the U.S. posture in the Sinai, the AP reported.
The talks have included an examination of ways to bolster the safety of the Americans there, possibly by bringing in additional equipment to better secure positions, according to senior administration officials familiar with the discussions. But the debate also has encompassed the question of bringing the U.S. peacekeepers home, said the officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the subject and demanded anonymity.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.