Two Egyptian soldiers and three militants killed in Sinai battle: army

ISMAILIA, Egypt Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:56am EST

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ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) - The Egyptian army said two soldiers were killed in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday while they carried out a raid that also left three al Qaeda-linked militants dead.

The army had launched the morning operation after receiving information that a wanted militant was hiding out in an area west of Rafah, in North Sinai.

The two soldiers, both conscripts, died when a gunbattle broke out after the troops came under fire, the army said in a statement. It said the operation was continuing and armed helicopters had been deployed.

Security sources said the militants involved in the gunbattle were members of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which means "Supporters of Jerusalem".

The group claimed responsibility for a September suicide bomb attack in Cairo on the interior minister. He survived unscathed.

Attacks on soldiers and policemen in the Sinai, which borders Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, have become common since the Egyptian army ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July in the face of mass unrest against his rule.

(Reporting By Yousri Mohamed and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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