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Middle East
Egyptian forces kill 'five fighters' in Sinai
Three suspects arrested in joint military and police assault in wake of last weekend's deadly attack on police station.
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2012 11:25
A security source earlier said armed men had opened fire on peacekeeping troops in Sinai [Reuters]

Five fighters have been killed in a joint military and police operation in the Sinai Peninsula, police sources said, as security operations continued a week after an attack on a police station that left 16 Egyptian border guards dead.

Police sources told Al Jazeera on Sunday that the fighters were killed in the town of al-Ghora in the Sheikh Zoweid area and that six gunmen were injured.

The bodies of those killed and the wounded were taken to the el-Arish Hospital, the sources said.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said: "There has been a joint security operation ongoing in Sinai with both the military and police taking part in chasing after armed fighters in the increasingly lawless area.

"We understand that security forces surrounded a house they suspected the gunmen were huddled in, they raided the house, and as a result five gunmen were killed and six were injured.

"Seperately in another part close to the Sheikh Zoweid area, three suspected militants were arrested. In their possession, according to security forces, were rocket propelled grenades, bombs and automatic weapons," she said.

The Egyptian military has not yet issued a statement on the latest causalties in Sinai.

Security has increased in the area after the assault last Sunday, in which gunmen stormed an army checkpoint on the border with Gaza and Israel, killing 16 soldiers as they were breaking their daily fast for the holy month of Ramadan.

Peacekeepers 'attacked'

Sunday's deaths follow reports earlier in the day from a security source who said armed men had opened fire on peacekeeping troops in Sinai on the border with Israel.

"The attack happened in Um Shyhan area in the middle of Sinai but no one got injured," the source said.

Before the attack on the peacekeepers, a group of armed men had clashed with Egyptian security forces in the same area after they opened fire at a police checkpoint, the same security source said. No one was injured.

Police checkpoints have come under a series of similar attacks by armed assailants since last Wednesday.

Egypt sent hundreds of troops and armoured vehicles into North Sinai on Thursday to tackle fighters operating near the border in an offensive that commanders said had killed up to 20 people they deemed "terrorists".

The Egyptian army captured six people it considered "terrorists" in Sinai on Friday and the security source said three of them were later released.

"Both the military second command and police authorities have stepped up their presence [in Sinai] in an ongiong security operation to deal with the situation there," our correspondent said.

"But a lot of observers say it will take a lot more than just boots on the ground, more perhaps of a sophisticated operation, beefing up intelligence in the area.

"After all, the border attack was a massive intelligence failure, so increasing training of the border police and all sorts of equipment is needed in order to be able to deal with the increasingly lawless situation there."

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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