The Egyptian army said it killed seven militants in an air strike in the Sinai Peninsula less than a week after jihadists downed a military helicopter in the restive region.
The army said the Thursday night air raid hit militants linked to the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, which the military-installed authorities have designated a terrorist organisation despite its repeated condemnation of jihadist attacks against the security forces.
The air strike targeted four houses of “dangerous extremists linked to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group” south of the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zwayed, the army said, adding that seven militants were killed and five wounded.
On January 25, militants shot down a military helicopter in the Sinai, killing five soldiers as Egyptians marked the third anniversary of the Arab Spring uprising that toppled veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Al-Qaeda inspired group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) claimed responsibility for the downing, which was only belatedly acknowledged by the military after several days of insisting that it had been an accident.
The Sinai-based group has claimed a spate of attacks against the security forces in recent months, not only in the desert peninsula but also in the heart of the capital.
The day before the helicopter downing, it claimed four bomb attacks against police targets in Cairo which killed six people, including a car bombing just outside the perimeter fence of police headquarters.
The army has poured troops into the Sinai in a bid to crush the militants but despite the loss of scores of police and troops since its July overthrow of Morsi, there has been no let-up in attacks.