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Egyptian army officer killed in Sinai airport shelling attack

Militants targeted a mosque near al-Arish in November, killing 305 people [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 December, 2017

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Unidentified militants on Monday targeted a visit of two ministers to the northern Sinai city of al-Arish.

An Egyptian army officer was killed and two others were injured on Tuesday when unidentified assailants shelled the al-Arish airport in the restive Sinai Peninsula, Egypt's army has said.

The attack seemed to target a visit to the northern Sinai city by Egypt's defence and interior ministers.

"The al-Arish airport was targeted today in an [artillery] barrage that led to the death of an army officer and injury of two others and partially damaged a helicopter," army spokesman Tamer al-Refai said in a statement.

"Security personnel opened fire on the source of the attack and are now combing the surrounding area for the perpetrators," he added.

Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi and Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar - neither of whom were injured in the attack -  had visited the city to inspect al-Arish's security situation.

Last month, militants in northern Sinai killed 305 people in the deadliest assault by Islamic extremists in Egypt's modern history, at a mosque near al-Arish.

Since the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamad Morsi in 2013, Egypt has been battling a growing militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

Among the groups operating in the desert region is an Islamic State group affiliate that has launched numerous attacks on security forces and religious minorities in Egypt. 

Earlier this week, Egyptian police killed five suspected militants in a shootout just outside Cairo.

The deadly shootout occurred when police launched a raid against the militants on Monday in el-Obour, just north of the capital. The Interior Ministry said another 10 suspects were arrested in follow-up raids nearby and in the northern city of Alexandria.

The statement said the suspects were part of a militant group plotting to attack churches. Rifles and ammunition were found at the scenes of the raids, it added.

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