The officials said Friday's attack started when a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into the checkpoint in southern Rafah village of el-Barth, followed by heavy shooting by dozens of masked militants on foot.

The dead include a high ranking special forces officer and at least 20 others were wounded.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the media. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Egypt has in recent years been battling a stepped-up insurgency in northern Sinai, mainly by militants from an Islamic State group affiliate.