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Aug 4, 7:46 AM EDT

Militants in Egypt shell house in Sinai, killing family of 5

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CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Militants in Egypt's restive northern Sinai shelled a house near a security checkpoint early on Tuesday, killing an entire family of five members inside it and wounding nine of their neighbors, Egyptian security officials said.

The checkpoint appeared to have been the intended target in the attack in the Sinai Peninsula town of Sheikh Zuweid, the officials said, though it was unclear why the house was shelled instead.

Three children were among those killed. The wounded were taken to the town hospital for treatment, the officials added, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Sinai-based Islamic militants have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks in recent months that have killed dozens of Egyptian soldiers and police. Government forces have been carrying out an intensified hunt for the militants in several northern towns in the peninsula.

The latest surge in violence began after the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi two years ago, following mass protests against his rule.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack but an Islamic State affiliate has claimed responsibility for scores of deadly attacks targeting security forces in Sinai recently.

The attack comes two days before Egypt is to hold the grand opening of an extension to the Suez Canal, which separates the Sinai Peninsula from mainland Egypt - a major event set to attract scores of local and foreign dignitaries amid tight security.

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