August 25, 2018 / 1:59 PM / 3 months ago

Four militants killed trying to attack Egyptian police checkpoint -agency

CAIRO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces on Saturday killed four suspected militants who had tried to attack a police checkpoint in northern Sinai, state news agency MENA reported, as troops pushed ahead with an operation to crush insurgents.

MENA said the militants, some of whom were armed with explosive belts, tried to storm a checkpoint on the coastal road near the city of el-Arish, the North Sinai provincial capital.

It quoted a source as saying police officers confronted the militants, killing four of them while the rest fled.

Security forces recovered 10 explosive charges, four automatic rifles, three suicide belts, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and hand grenades, MENA said.

Local media published pictures of at least two men, one lying on an asphalt road and another on the sand, and separate photographs of weapons found on them, including four AK-47 assault rifles, one RPG launcher, gun magazines and what appeared as suicide belts.

The agency made no mention of any casualties among the police.

An interior ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached for a comment.

The operation began after President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ordered the army and security forces to crush militants after gunmen killed hundreds of worshippers at a mosque in Sinai last November.

Saturday’s deaths raised to at least 329 the number of suspected militants killed in the campaign.

Egypt says fighting Islamist militants was a priority to restore security to the country of some 96 million people after years of turmoil that followed Arab Spring protests in 2011.

Sisi’s critics say his presidency has brought a harsh crackdown on dissent.

Reporting by Ali Abdelatty Writing by Sami Aboudi Editing by Edmund Blair

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