At least 12 suspected militants killed by Egyptian airstrikes in Sinai


A picture taken on August 11, 2013 shows a police station damaged by a missile attack in El-Arish in Egypt's Sinai peninsula. Analysts attribute the sharp rise in Sinai violence to Islamist extremists seeking to take advantage of the political insecurity in Egypt following Morsi's ouster.



Military officials say at least 12 suspected militants are dead after Egyptian helicopters fired at a gathering in the country's Sinai Peninsula.

Three helicopters targeted the group in the desert town of Sheik Zuweyid on Saturday night.

The overnight strikes against "a terrorist group" responsible for killing police and army troops in north Sinai left "25 people dead and injured", army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Aly told Agence France-Presse.

He said a weapons and ammunition depot "which was being used for terrorist acts against the armed forces and police, terrorizing the innocent citizens of North Sinai" was also destroyed.

Colonel Aly says the militants are wanted for an attack on Egyptian soldiers last year that killed 16 and the abduction of seven security forces earlier this year, reports the Associated Press.

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In the nearby village of Touma, witnesses only confirmed two people killed, with their funerals held Sunday.

Militants based mainly in north Sinai near Israel's border have escalated attacks on security forces and other targets since July 3, when the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and installed a new government in Cairo.

The Egyptian army has been engaged in a campaign to curtail the surge in violence and rein in militant activity in the lawless Sinai.

The strikes came just a day after an Israeli drone reportedly killed five suspected militants also in the Sinai peninsula Friday.

Cairo denied the allegation.

"There is no truth whatsoever to any Israeli strikes inside Egyptian territory and the claim that there is Egyptian and Israeli coordination on the matter is utterly baseless," military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Aly said.

AFP contributed to this report.

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