Six militants were killed in a shootout Sunday morning in the northern Sinai peninsula, where the Egyptian army is engaged in a major operation against "terrorism," said the Egyptian state television.
"Security forces conducted a raid against a small house in the village (al-Joura) and there was a firefight," said a witness. "They killed six people and left the bodies, then returned with ambulances and a fire truck to take them," he added. Another witness described the gunmen as "foreign" to the village. He also said the six men were killed in crossfire when security forces entered the house where they were hiding.
State television had initially said nine people - six militants and three soldiers, were killed as part of a major operation by the army against terrorism, but a security source told AFP that three soldiers had died in a road accident elsewhere in the peninsula.
The military claimed to have killed 20 militants in an airstrike Wednesday, but eyewitnesses conveyed that no one had died. The information given by the authorities or the official media are difficult to verify, and residents say they are skeptical about the "success" claimed by the security forces.
On Friday, state media have reported the arrest of six "terrorists," but friends of the six men told AFP that the detainees were "very religious" but have nothing to do with terror attacks in the region.
Egyptian army and police reinforcements were sent to Sinai after an attack last Sunday that killed 16 Egyptian border guards and was attributed to "Islamist terrorists". Egyptian authorities have pledged to regain control of this sensitive region, close to Israel and the Palestinian enclave of Gaza Strip.
After the attack, Egypt closed the Rafah terminal, but Cairo decided to partially reopen the Rafah crossing on Friday.