Egyptian aircraft struck at targets near the border with Israel on Wednesday and troops raided villages in a crackdown on Islamic militants blamed for a deadly attack on Egyptian border police, army officials and witnesses said.
The air strikes around the town of Sheikh Zuwaid, 10 km (6 miles) from Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip, followed clashes overnight between armed men and security forces at several checkpoints in the north of Egypt’s Sinai region.
Gunmen killed 16 border guards on Sunday in the bloodiest attack on security forces in Sinai since Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, an accord which brought a close to a succession of wars between the two countries.
The attackers stormed through the border into Israel but they were killed by Israeli fire.
The militants, who are sworn to destroy Israel, have stepped up their actions along the isolated desert frontier since an uprising toppled Egypt’s autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak last year.
The new president, islamist Mohamed Mursi who took office in June, has tried to allay Israeli concerns with promises to bring the region back under government control.