Ten militants were killed Wednesday in the northern Sinai Peninsula as Egyptian troops continue an ongoing offensive to root out growing militancy and terrorist attacks in the restive region.
Three militants were killed late Wednesday in an exchange of fire with security forces in an armoured vehicle in the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid, state news agency MENA reported.
The attack came hours after a military air offensive in the peninsula killed seven "dangerous" militants supporting the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, the military said Thursday.
The dead include one of the suspects in the killing of 16 border guards in August 2012, military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said.
In a separate statement, the spokesman said troops Thursday destroyed two explosive-laden cars near army camps in the North Sinai towns of Sheikh Zuweid and Al-Arish following a tip-off that an Al-Qaeda-inspired group, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, was planning car bombings on army and police targets.
Attacks targeting police and military in the peninsula have become commonplace since the army ousted former president Morsi in July 2013 amid nationwide protests. Scores of policemen and army personnel have been killed since.
Troops also destroyed Wednesday two homes belonging to suspected militants during the air bombing that targeted insurgent hideouts in the volatile region.
One of the homes shelled in the raid was used as a militant hideout and weapons depot, while the other was owned by a suspected militant connected with a recent missile attack that downed a military helicopter in the peninsula, killing five soldiers, the military spokesman said.
The Sinai-based Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis group, which has claimed responsibility for most of the deadly militant attacks across the country, said its fighters shot down the helicopter.
Radical Islamists have expanded amid the lawlessness of the peninsula, adjoining Israel and the Gaza Strip, following the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt's army has poured troops and armour into the region to flush out militants who have stepped up their attacks, particularly in recent months.
A series of deadly bombings targeting police in Cairo last week — also claimed by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis — has heightened fears that militant violence is taking hold outside Sinai.