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Militants: Israel Launches Drone Strike in Sinai

An Islamist militant group active in Egypt's northern Sinai region says an airstrike that killed at least four of its fighters was carried out by an unmanned aircraft, or drone, based in Israel.

A statement in the name of the militants seen on a jihadist website Saturday said the drone attacked Friday as Arab fighters were preparing to fire rockets into Israel.

The group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is known in some quarters as Ansar Jerusalem. It was not clear how the militants determined the attack came from Israel, which has not said anything about such an incident.

Egyptian authorities would not confirm the militants' account, but news agencies reported that security officials speaking off the record indicated an Israeli drone fired on the militants.

VOA correspondents in the region said cooperation between Israeli and Egyptian military officials would not be unprecedented, but that public disclosure is unlikely, since Cairo would be embarrassed by acknowledgement of an active Israeli military role in Sinai. Militants have been active in northern Sinai since Egypt was thrown into turmoil in early 2011, when nationwide demonstrations led to the removal longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Militant attacks on Egyptian government forces in Sinai also have intensified since Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, the country's elected president, was forced to step down last month by a military ultimatum.