7 killed in Sinai clashes between Egypt army, gunmen
Published Sunday 06/10/2013 (updated) 07/10/2013 16:26
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Seven people were killed in the Sinai peninsula on Sunday during clashes between Egyptian military forces and gunmen, security officials said.
Egyptian forces killed four armed men near a checkpoint on the Cairo-Ismailia road after an exchange of gunfire with several vehicles, officials told Ma'an.
Soldiers searched one of the assailants' vehicles following the incident and found two automatic rifles and ammunition.
An Egyptian officer and soldier were killed in the gunfight, while two others were injured.
Egypt's army later arrested two suspected gunmen who had participated in the attack. The men admitted to taking part in the attack on the checkpoint, Egyptian military officials said, and they will be referred for prosecution.
Meanwhile, unidentified gunmen shot dead an Egyptian police officer in el-Arish on Sunday.
Witnesses told Ma'an that two gunmen approached a police station and shot an officer Hamdi Abed al-Aziz Abed al-Tawab, 35, in the head, killing him instantly.
Egyptian armed forces launched large scale military action against militants in Sinai earlier in September, in what officials described as the largest mobilization of force in the area since the 1973 war with Israel.
The army has killed around 100 Islamists in the area over the past two months, while militants have killed 58 policemen, 21 soldiers and 17 civilians there, according to an AFP tally.
Hundreds of people have been killed and more than 2,000 arrested across Egypt in the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since Aug. 14, when police forcibly dispersed two protest camps in Cairo's Rabia al-Adawiya Square.
The protest camps had been set up in opposition to the July 3 coup by the Egyptian military, which overthrew democratically elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his leadership.
In the months since, the Egyptian military has stepped up a campaign against militant groups operating out of the Sinai Peninsula, while armed groups loyal to Morsi have responded violently against the military crackdown.
Other armed groups have taken advantage of the relatively lawless situation in the Sinai Peninsula to engage in smuggling and human trafficking.
The Egyptian military has accused Hamas, the current rulers of the Gaza Strip, of being connected to the violence and of having ties to deposed President Morsi.
AFP contributed to this report