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5 killed in Egypt clashes between Islamists and army

July 30, 2011 1:52 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 1, 2011 6:26 P.M.)
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Five Egyptians were killed on Friday in clashes between Egyptian forces and reported Islamists.

Over 100 masked men wearing black uniforms rallied in the streets of El-Arish, Sheikh Zweid and Rafah, a town on the Gaza border, waving black banners reading "There is no God but Allah."

In El-Arish, the armed men headed to Rifai Square and fired at a statue of the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated by Islamists in 1981.

Egyptian soldiers tried to confront the protesters, who then headed to a police station and fired at the building. Police officers returned fire and clashes continued until midnight.

An Egyptian officer and four civilians were killed, including a child. Eighteen others were injured. Police could not control the gunmen, and military back-up was sent to El-Arish.

The army managed to stop the gunmen from breaking into the police station but the masked men moved to the coastline where they continued to clash with the army.

When army reinforcements arrived the gunmen withdrew in groups.

Egyptian security sources told a Ma'an correspondent that the gunmen belonged to a "dangerous extremist group who were responsible for the attacks on the gas pipelines from Egypt to Jordan and Israel, and attacks on police stations after the revolution in Egypt.

"They plan to expel the Egyptian security and establish a tribal regime in northern Sinai."
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