Gunmen kill five Egyptian police in Sinai: ministry


Cairo (AFP)

Unknown assailants have shot dead five Egyptian policemen in an attack on a security checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault on Wednesday night in North Sinai, where security forces are battling jihadists linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.

"Unidentified gunmen opened fire on security forces at El-Etlawi square in the centre of El-Arish," the ministry said in a statement, referring to the North Sinai provincial capital.

A gun battle ensued in which the five policemen were killed and three conscripts were wounded, it said.

Security forces were searching for the attackers, the ministry said.

The region is a bastion of the IS-affiliated jihadist group Sinai Province.

Its fighters are waging an insurgency against security forces in North Sinai, and have regularly carried out deadly attacks on policemen and soldiers.

The latest attack comes just days before the fifth anniversary of the January 25, 2011 uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak.

The insurgency in North Sinai swelled after the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Jihadists say their attacks are in retaliation for a brutal government crackdown targeting Morsi's supporters that has left hundreds dead and thousands imprisoned.