EL-ARISH: Gunmen opened fire on a police checkpoint in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, killing two policemen and injuring a third in a daring attack early Sunday, security officials said.
The gunmen opened fire on the checkpoint near the town of Al-Arish, instantly killing policemen Mohammed Fawzi and Mohammed Mosleh, both 21.
The policemen opened fire at the attackers, who were driving vehicles mounted with machine guns, but failed to stop them. The gunmen fled the site of the attack south of the airport of the city of el-Arish, leaving two policemen dead, one hit in the chest and another in the head, the officials said.
Several gunmen were also wounded in the ensuing exchange of fire but managed to escape.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Security forces are sweeping the area in search of the gunmen, the official said.
Militants have stepped up their activity in Sinai, taking advantage of a security vacuum caused by a thin police presence following the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak last year.
The lawlessness in the peninsula has also been complicated by sour relations between the local Bedouin tribes and the security agencies, who were accused of mistreating them in the Mubarak era, rounding up hundreds following several terrorist attacks in Sinai in the last decade. In the past months, disgruntled Bedouins have protested, blocking roads and sometimes kidnapping tourists, to push for demands including freeing prisoners.