|Egyptian troops in action in the Sinai (AFP).|
The fighting broke out after police backed by the military staged dawn raids on a number of homes in Sheik Zuweyid, a desert village about 30 kilometers from northern Sinai's main city of el-Arish. Officials said four men suspected of belonging to extremist militant groups were arrested.
The raid was part of a major security sweep in Sinai in response to a brazen attack by suspected Islamic militants on a military outpost near the Egypt-Israel-Gaza border on Aug. 5 that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
During Sunday's fighting a group chased down 13 armored personnel carriers that had conducted the raids, firing on them and at a helicopter involved in the security sweep. Three policemen, two soldiers and two civilians, a 10 year-old girl and an elderly Bedouin woman, were wounded in two hours of fighting in Sheik Zuweyid, officials said.
Later the same morning, militants in Land Cruisers fired rocket-propelled grenades and bullets at northern Sinai's main security headquarters in el-Arish, two police stations in the area and a checkpoint. No one was wounded in those attacks.