Eight killed in attack on police checkpoint in Egypt's Western Desert

CAIRO (Reuters) - At least eight policemen were killed and three wounded in an attack by Islamist militants on a security checkpoint in Egypt’s New Valley province in the Western Desert, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

State television said the attack took place at around 8.15 p.m. in the Naqb checkpoint more that 600 kilometers (370 miles) southwest of Cairo.

At least two of the attackers were killed, the Interior Ministry said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Egypt is facing a more than three-year-old Islamist insurgency led by Islamic State after general-turned-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led the military in ousting Islamist President Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule.

The insurgency is largely contained in the Sinai Peninsula, far from where Monday’s attack took place. Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed.

There have been occasional attacks however in the Western Desert which borders chaotic neighbor Libya where Islamic State is also active.

Security officials say militants operating from Libya are trying to forge ties with Islamists in the Sinai, an alliance that could prolong Egypt’s instability and scare away tourists and investors who are needed to help fix a battered economy.

Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Eric Knecht and Ralph Boulton