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Egypt Airstrike Kills 23 Militants in Sinai


Egyptian soldiers sit atop a military personnel carrier securing the Egyptian side of the border between Egypt and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, July 1, 2015.

Egypt launched airstrikes on Islamist militant targets in the Sinai peninsula on Thursday, killing 23 fighters a day after the deadliest clashes in the region in years, security sources said.

The sources said those killed had taken part in Wednesday's fighting in which 100 militants and 17 soldiers, including four officers, were killed, according to the army spokesman.

Meanwhile, a newspaper close to the Egyptian government said the Islamic State-linked militants who attacked the troops used sophisticated weaponry, including Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles.

El-Watan daily said the attackers also used mortars, anti-aircraft guns and other guided missiles.

The attack, which included a wave of suicide bombings and assaults on security installations by dozens of militants, was Sinai's deadliest fighting in decades.

Increase in attacks

Sinai-based insurgents, affiliates of the Islamic State group, have stepped up attacks on soldiers and police since then-army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi toppled Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

Sissi, now Egypt's elected president, said the pro-Islamic State group Sinai Province, and other militant factions, pose an existential threat to Egypt, other Arab states and the West.

This week has been especially troubling for Egypt, a strategic U.S. ally which has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the Suez Canal, a vital global shipping lane.

The militants' assault, a significant escalation in violence in the peninsula between Israel, the Gaza Strip and the Suez Canal, was the second major attack in Egypt this week.

On Monday, a car bomb killed the prosecutor-general in Cairo, the highest-profile official to die since the insurgency began.

Material for this report came from Reuters and AP.

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