Gunmen kill police officer in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

 19 Apr 2017 - 14:04

Gunmen kill police officer in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula
File Photo.

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CAIRO: An Egyptian police officer was killed and another three injured when gunmen targeted a security checkpoint in the southern Sinai Peninsula, according to the Interior Ministry.

In a statement, the ministry said that a group of unidentified gunmen late Tuesday night had opened fire on security personnel deployed at the checkpoint before vanishing into nearby mountainous terrain.

The attack occurred near the historic St. Catherine Monastery in Egypt’s South Sinai province.

On IS-linked social-media accounts, the terrorist group appeared to claim responsibility for the shooting attack.

Southern Sinai had not seen any militant attacks since early 2014, when the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group -- which later changed its name to “Welayet Sinai” and is said to have links with IS-- claimed responsibility for an attack on a tourist bus that left three tourists and the bus driver dead.

Tuesday’s attack in South Sinai comes 10 days after two separate church bombings in northern Egypt -- also claimed by IS-- that killed dozens of Coptic Christian worshippers as they celebrated the Palm Sunday holiday.

Roman Catholic Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt on April 28 and 29.

Sinai has remained at the epicenter of a deadly militant insurgency since mid-2013, when Mohamed Morsi -- Egypt’s first freely-elected president -- was ousted and imprisoned in a military coup. 

Since then, hundreds of Egyptian security personnel have been killed across the peninsula, which shares borders with both Israel and the blockaded Gaza Strip. 

Egyptian security forces, meanwhile, continue to wage a fierce campaign -- involving elements of both the police and army -- against what they describe as Sinai-based "terrorist groups".