CAIRO -- An Egyptian army raid meant to snare a wanted Islamist turned into a fierce firefight that left at least two soldiers and three militants dead in the volatile northern Sinai Peninsula on Friday, the military said.
The troops moved in after receiving reports that a fugitive Islamist leader was holed up in an area near Rafah, which borders the Gaza Strip. Instead of nabbing him, however, they found themselves in a gun battle so intense that the army rushed in helicopters to back up the soldiers on the ground.
The army's chief spokesman, Col. Ali Ahmed, said in a statement that eight troops were wounded in "dense fire from all directions."
The wanted man was affiliated with Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, or Partisans of Jerusalem, an Islamist group implicated in a number of high-profile attacks against Egyptian security forces in Sinai. The group also claimed responsibility for a failed attempt in September to assassinate Egypt's interior minister, employing a massive suicide bomb.
The campaign in Sinai was launched soon after the military-backed interim government took power in July. Egyptian authorities accuse deposed Islamist President
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