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The militants detonated an improvised explosive device and destroyed four armored vehicles and a signal-jamming vehicle.

Once limiting their operations to North Sinai, the terrorist groups have recently started to carry out terrorist attacks in different governorates in Egypt including Cairo the capital.

When the police forces approached to the apartment, terrorists opened fire on them, the official said.

Police found in the two apartments bomb-making materials, assault rifles and ammunition as well as maps of vital state installations and computers in which instructions and details of future attacks were stored, they said.

Since then, hundreds of Egyptian security personnel have been killed in attacks across Sinai - especially in the peninsula's volatile northeastern quadrant, which shares borders with both Israel and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Reuters reported that about 18 policemen had died and three were injured, citing local security and medical sources. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief media.

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The attack took place about 30 kilometers (nearly 19 miles) west of el-Arish in northern Sinai, the epicenter of a long-running insurgency now led by an IS affiliate.

According to the state news agency MENA, security forces entered a gun battle with militants in the vicinity of the blast site and managed to slay several of them. Police said the militants had sneaked into Cairo from the volatile northern Sinai.

Egypt accuses Hasm of being a militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group it outlawed in 2013.

The officials said the militants were members of Hasm, a breakaway Brotherhood faction that has targeted police and army officers in Cairo over the past year in a series of brazen attacks.