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Egypt police officer killed in IS attack on Sinai monastery

The attack follows the killing of 45 people on Palm Sunday in twin church bombings in Tanta and Alexandria
St Catherine's monastery in Egypt's south Sinai, where a policeman was killed and three others wounded on 18 April (AFP)

A policeman was killed and four others wounded on Tuesday when gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint near St Catherine's monastery in Egypt's Sinai, the Egyptian interior ministry said. 

IS's Amaq propaganda arm claimed the attack on social media. 

"A number of gunmen... facing one of the checkpoints on the road to St Catherine's in south Sinai shot at security forces at the checkpoint," the interior ministry said in a statement.

Security forces returned fire, wounding some of the attackers and "forcing them to flee", it said.

St Catherine's monastery, a Christian site which lies some 500 kilometres (300 miles) southeast of Cairo in the south of the Sinai peninsula, attracts thousands of visitors a year.

The attack comes nine days after Palm Sunday services at Coptic Christian churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria were bombed by IS, killing 45 people.

IS has threatened to carry out more attacks on the minority, which makes up about 10 percent of Egypt's 92 million people.

Egypt is battling a militant insurgency in north Sinai that has killed hundreds of policemen and troops since the 2013 ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

In October 2015, IS claimed the bombing of a Russian airliner carrying tourists home from the popular south Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.

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