"This morning as police were carrying on their search in Jabal Halal ... two booby-trapped devices exploded, killing two officers and wounding two others," the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Police were hunting for "a criminal group implicated in the Sharm al-Shaikh attacks and hiding out in the region", it said, referring to the 23 July  bombings in the Sinai resort on the Red Sea that killed about 70 people.

On Wednesday, six policemen were wounded in an explosion in the same area.

Drug traffickers

Jabal Halal, where the security forces have been operating since Tuesday in their hunt for bombers, is a region rife with drug traffickers and outlaws.

The Sinai peninsula of eastern Egypt has been hit by a series of bomb blasts over the past year.

On 15 August this year, two Canadian women peacekeepers with the Multinational Force and Observers, set up after Israel completed its withdrawal from the Sinai region in 1982, were wounded in a bomb blast.

In October 2004, 34 people were killed in car bomb attacks against a Taba hotel and two nearby holiday camps.