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Egyptian policeman killed in Sinai attack claimed by IS

Egypt has been battling an insurgency in Sinai since 2013 [AFP]

Date of publication: 25 July, 2016

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An Egyptian police officer was shot dead in Egypt's North Sinai in an attack claimed by the Islamic State militant group, the interior ministry said in a statement.

A gunman has shot dead a police officer in Egypt's North Sinai in an attack claimed by the Islamic State militant group, the interior ministry announced on Monday.

The gunman shot the police major in al-Arish, the provincial capital of North Sinai, on Sunday night, the ministry said in a statement.

The extremist group's Egypt affiliate said in a statement circulated on social media that its fighters "assassinated" the major and made off with his car and automatic rifle.

The militants have kept up the attacks in Sinai, mostly roadside bombings and ambushes, despite a massive military campaign to uproot IS from the eastern peninsula bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Most of the group's attacks have targeted security forces, but it has also attacked Egyptian Christians and tourists.

Earlier this month, Egyptian Coptic priest Raphael Moussa was shot dead as he was standing next to his car in al-Arish.

IS claimed responsibility for the murder in a statement posted on social media, accusing the priest of "combating Islam".

Moussa was not the first priest to be killed in Arish. Mina Aboud, another fellow priest, was shot dead on 6 July 2013.

Last year, the group claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian airliner carrying holiday makers from an Egyptian resort, killing all 224 people on board.

Meanwhile, human rights groups have accused the Egyptian military of committing numerous abuses in counter-insurgency operations against the group in Sinai.

Earlier this month, Egyptian civilians were killed and injured after artillery shells fired by the army struck several homes in the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuwaid.

The incident came only a few days after two children were killed and three others injured when a military shell hit their family home during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.  

In March, the army said it killed at least 60 IS militants in an air raid on the group's positions in North Sinai.

The military has also razed the homes belonging to thousands of families in the Rafah area – along the border with the Gaza Strip – in a bid to crack down on smuggling through the area's notorious tunnels.

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