Seven were injured on Sunday in fighting between Islamic militants and Egyptian military and police. Egyptian officials continue their security sweep in Sinai, an area near the Egypt-Israel-Gaza border that has become increasingly violent since the fall of former President Hosni Mubara.
Islamic militants clashed for more than two hours Sunday with army and police in the Sinai Peninsula, wounding seven people in fighting touched off by a security dragnet, Egyptian officials said.
The officials backed away from an earlier report that the militants had taken children hostage to be used as human shields, saying that the fighters instead jumped briefly behind a school wall to hide as children were arriving.
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 18 miles 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.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity according to police and military regulations.
The rugged Sinai peninsula of barren deserts and daunting mountains with a population of around 400,000 has long been a volatile corner of Egypt, home to militants, smugglers, and restive tribes.