Egypt air strike 'kills militants' in Sinai

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The Sinai peninsula has become increasingly lawless since the 2011 revolution

The Egyptian army says 13 militants have been killed in an air strike targeting an al-Qaeda-inspired group in northern Sinai.

The raid comes days after Islamist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis said it shot down a military helicopter in the area.

Militants in northern Sinai have intensified attacks since the ousting of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

Meanwhile, Israel says an Iron Dome anti-missile system has intercepted a rocket fired at the city of Eilat.

Helicopter claim

Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem) says it has carried out a series of bombings and shootings against the armed forces and police in retaliation for the overthrow of Mr Morsi last July - including a bomb attack on the police headquarters in Cairo last Friday.

It claims to have it shot down an Egyptian army helicopter near the border with the Gaza Strip in northern Sinai last weekend - killing all five crew members.

Military officials said Egypt's Air Force launched a series of strikes against militants around the city of el-Arish in northern Sinai on Friday. They targeted houses, shops, vehicles and other gathering points.

The number of people killed could not be independently confirmed.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
The Red Sea resort city of Eilat is near the border with Egypt

Israel's Defence Force said the Iron Dome missile defence system had intercepted a rocket fired above the city of Eilat, near the Sinai border, on Friday evening. There were no reports of injuries.

It is the second time the Red Sea resort has been targeted this month, according to local media.

Islamic militant groups in Sinai, which have risen up since the toppling of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, have used the peninsula to target Israel across the lengthy shared border.

Meanwhile, violent clashes broke out on Friday between supporters of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and security forces in a number of Egyptian cities including Cairo and Alexandria, state media said.

In December, Egypt's military-backed government declared the Brotherhood a "terrorist organisation", blaming it for a string of attacks, which the Brotherhood denied.

A crackdown on the Brotherhood has seen more than 1,000 people killed and thousands more arrested.