Egypt's Interior Ministry says four masked gunmen have stormed a house in the North Sinai city of Arish and shot dead two policemen inside.
Arish, a city on the Mediterranean, has been at the center of an insurgency by Islamic militants targeting members of the security forces and soldiers. The shooting took place early on Thursday.
The statement did not say who was behind the attack, which bore the hallmarks of Islamic militants operating in the area. Among them is the Sinai Province terrorist group, which was initially known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, but changed its name in 2014 after it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
Insurgents have been battling security forces for years in northern Sinai but their attacks have grown more frequent and deadly since the military's ouster in 2013 of Egypt's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi.
Under the President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has conducted intensive anti-insurgency operations in Sinai, with a series of operations titled "Martyrs' Right", which have allegedly captured and killed hundreds of terrorists and destoryed their hideouts and equipment.
However, terrorists have also claimed the lives of dozens of soldiers and policemen in Sinai, and conducted assassinations and bombings in both Sinai and mainland Egypt.
In June 2015, Hesham Barakat, who was appopinted Egypt's chief prosecutor after the ousting of Morsi, was killed in a bomb attack on his car in Cairo. A little-known group calling itself the "Giza Popular Resistance" had claimed responsibility for the attack on its Facebook page, but the claim was taken down a few hours later.
Three months later, two men attempted to kill State Security Prosecution Attorney General Tamer al-Fergany, rigging his car with explosives while it was parked at the State Security Prosecution headquarters.
Prior to the assassination of Barakat, the Sinai Province group had urged followers to attack judges. In May 2015, the group claimed responsibility the killing of three judges in Arish.
Meanwhile, police officers have come under attack in Cairo. In May this year, eight policemen were shot dead by masked gunmen in Helwan, an attack claimed by two different terrorist organizations.
The Islamic State (IS) group issued a statement claiming the attack, saying it was in response to the imprisonment of women. “The attack resulted in killing all eight apostate police officers. Thanks to God, the Jihadists were able to seize the killed officers’ weapons and returned safely,” said the statement.
The attack was also claimed by the ”Popular Resistance” movement, the affiliations of which are not known.