Jul 29, 5:13 AM EDT

Egypt military kills 7 militants in volatile Sinai

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CAIRO (AP) -- Egyptian troops killed seven suspected militants and arrested five as part of an ongoing offensive in the volatile Sinai Peninsula where the military has been trying to quell a spreading insurgency by Islamic militants, an army spokesman said.

According to a statement posted on Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir's official Facebook page late Monday, the troops killed three militants in an exchange of fire while four others died when a group tried to attack a house of in the border town of Rafah.

Five militants were arrested and five were wounded, the posting said but it was unclear if the five were the same people in both cases.

Militant attacks in Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt have escalated since the military's ouster last July of the country's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and its subsequent crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Militant attacks have also at times spread from Sinai, with dramatic bombings in several Nile Delta cities and Egypt's capital, Cairo, largely targeting the military and the police. Authorities accuse Morsi and the Brotherhood, which they have branded a terrorist organization, of helping militants find new ground in northern Sinai, a claim they deny.

An al-Qaida-inspired group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks in Sinai and across Egypt targeting mainly the police, military and top officials, including the country's current interior minister.

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