Egypt launches new assault against Sinai militants

CAIRO (AP) — Security officials say nine militants and two soldiers were killed during Egyptian raids on suspected hideouts and weapon caches of Islamic militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

Egyptian helicopter gunships and tanks pounded the targets Saturday in what locals say is the largest operation in the lawless region for years.

Officials say the military is hunting hundreds of militants believed to be responsible for a series of attacks in the region they overran after the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. According to the officials, the militants belong to a number of well-known al-Qaida-inspired groups that seek the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in northern Sinai, a region bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Attacks in the region have increased following the July 3 military coup that toppled President Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist, prompting the military offensive.

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