July 14, 2017 / 3:32 PM / 2 months ago

Gunmen kill five Egyptian police south of Cairo

CAIRO (Reuters) - Gunmen ambushed an Egyptian security checkpoint on Friday, opening fire on a car and killing five policemen in an area just south of the capital, the state-run MENA news agency and the Interior Ministry said.

Three gunmen on a motorbike attacked police in al-Badrasheen area of Giza province, 30 km (20 miles) south of Cairo, killing two officers and three conscripts in the latest attack on Egyptian security forces battling an Islamist insurgency.

“A police officer who was near the site of the attack exchanged fire with the assailants forcing them to flee,” the ministry statement said.

Witnesses said attackers blasted the vehicle with automatic rifles then took equipment and threw petrol bombs inside the car before fleeing. Residents extinguished the fire.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Egyptian security forces have been battling the local affiliate of Islamic State in the northern Sinai area and attacks have spread to other parts of Egypt.

Hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed since 2013 in the Sinai Peninsula. At least 23 soldiers were killed last week when suicide car bombs hit two checkpoints in the region in an attack claimed by Islamic State. It was one of the bloodiest assaults on security forces in years [nL8N1JY1M6].

Islamic State has also intensified attacks in other areas, often targeting Coptic Christians. About 100 Copts have been killed since December.

In May gunmen assault on a group of Copts in a bus travelling to a monastery, killing 29 people and two bombings of churches killed more than 40 people a month earlier.

Church sources on Thursday said Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians and the Egyptian Catholic church have been told by church leaders to cancel all events, camps and activities outside churches in July because of a security threat.

Reporting by Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Alison Williams

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