Egypt says 2 militants killed in shootout with police

CAIRO — Two members of a group suspected of being linked to the Muslim Brotherhood were killed Sunday in an exchange of gunfire with the police in a province outside the capital Cairo, the Interior Ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry added that the militants were hiding in a building in the province of Qaliubya and belonged to Hasm movement which was behind the killing of a police officer in July.

Hasm, which routinely targets Egyptian security forces in bombings and drive-by shootings, had claimed responsibility for gunning down Capt. Ibrahim Azazi on Friday while he was heading to a mosque.

The ministry said that the two militants, who were in their early twenties, were previously sentenced to 15 years for belonging to a terrorist group and participating in violence.

Meanwhile, two policemen were killed and six were injured late Saturday after their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in the town of el-Arish in the northern Sinai Peninsula, the officials said.

The policemen's deaths bring the total number of security personnel killed in separate attacks in el-Arish and the border town of Rafah over the course of the past three days to 10, they said.

The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Egypt has been struggling to contain an insurgency by Islamic militants led by an affiliate of the Islamic State group centered in the northern region of the Sinai peninsula, though attacks on the mainland have recently increased.

The country is currently under a state of emergency, declared by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi since twin bombings targeted churches in the northern cities of Alexandria and Tanta on Palm Sunday killing at least 45 people. The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.

The restive northern Sinai has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, after Islamic militants killed more than 30 soldiers in a single attack.

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