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Egypt army kills 15 militants in Sinai

NORTH SINAI, Egypt, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's army on Thursday killed 15 suspected militants in a security raid and arrested 25 others suspected of being members of the extremist Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group, security source told Xinhua.

The armed forces managed to besiege big numbers of the Bayt al- Maqdis members in southern Rafah city, and raided the strongholds of the group's leaders at al-Mahdiah, Naga Shabanah, and al-Agra villages, near Egypt's borders with Israel, the security source told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

"Army tanks shelled six vehicles full of weapons," the source said, adding that two leading members in the group, Youssif abou- Ayat and Saed abo-Farih, who mastered Rafah massacres against security forces, were among the dead.

On Wednesday, the army killed another seven militants belonging to the same group in clashes in Sheikh Zuwid city and foiled an attempt to bomb two cars of the armed forces.

Since August, nearly 90 militants suspected of attacking police and army premises have been killed, the source said.

North Sinai has been the scene of violent attacks by Islamist militants since the 2011 protests that toppled former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

The attacks by Islamist militants targeting the police and the military has increased after the ouster of Islamist ex-President Mohamed Morsi last year. According to interior ministry reports, more than 500 policemen and soldiers have been killed in bombing and shooting since last August.

In response, the army, in coordination with the police, has launched a massive security campaign in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where the extremist attacks against security forces have escalated.

The government has held the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for the attacks against security forces, but the Islamist group has repeatedly denied this claim.

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