Jul 21, 3:58 PM EDT

Islamic militants kill 2 tribal leaders in Egypt

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EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) -- Security officials in Egypt say suspected Islamic militants have gunned down two tribal leaders in the restive northern region of the Sinai Peninsula over their alleged connection to authorities.

The officials said that Sheik Ashtewi Maraheel and Hassan al-Baiera, both from the well-known Sawarka Bedouin tribe of the northern Sinai, were killed in two separate incidents in the town of Rafah after sunset Monday. The officials say that masked militants opened fire on each of them near their homes before fleeing.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

The Egyptian military has been waging a wide offensive in areas bordering Gaza Strip and Israel after they turned to strongholds of Islamic extremists, including the al-Qaida-inspired group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.

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