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Civilians killed in Egypt's Sinai battles

Two separate incidents kill three children and a woman as Sisi makes unannounced visit to Sinai to rally the troops.

Three children and a woman have been killed in two separate incidents in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, while Egyptian army launched new air strikes near Sheikh Zuweid killing 12 rebels and destroying weapons and explosives caches.

One of Saturday's deadly attack came in Sheikh Zuweid town of northern Sinai where two children and a woman were killed when a shell struck into a house. It was not immediately clear which side fired the shell which also seriously wounded another woman and a teenage girl.

In another incident, a roadside bomb targeting police and army vehicles killed a five-year-old child in Rafah town that borders the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Three other children and a woman were also wounded in the blast.

The violence came days after Egyptian government carried out air strikes on Wednesday in response to one of the deadliest rebel assaults in Sheikh Zuweid.

The army said 17 soldiers and 100 rebels had been killed in that attack, but medical and security officials said the death toll was at least 70 people - mostly soldiers - as well as dozens of rebels.

On Saturday, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, for whom the violence poses a major test, made an unannounced visit to Sinai to rally the troops.

"I have come to salute the heroes of the armed forces and to express to them my recognition," he was quoted by the army's spokesman as saying.

State television broadcast footage of Sisi, dressed in military fatigues, touring an army base and inspecting captured weapons.

The violence is part of the unrest that has been going on in Sinai since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi two years ago.

Most of the attacks are claimed by a group calling itself the Sinai Province - formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. It changed its name when it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group last November.

The rebels say they are acting in response to the bloody repression launched by the authorities after Morsi's overthrow, which has seen at least 1,400 people killed and thousands more jailed.


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