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Egyptian police jailed for three years for striking

50 low-ranking police went on strike in January to protest against a cut in holiday entitlement
Egyptian police stand guard outside a hospital in Cairo's northern suburb of Shubra (AFP)

An Egyptian court has jailed 50 police officers for three years after convicting them on charges related to a strike earlier this year, state media reported.

The low-ranking police were also fined 6,000 Egyptian pounds (roughly $330) by the South Sinai court on Thursday, the state-owned al-Ahram newspaper reported.

The policemen had gone on strike in January to protest against reduced holidays and allegedly "threatened violence" against superior officers, the newspaper said.

Egyptian policemen held several demonstrations and strikes after the 2011 overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak.

The authorities have shown little tolerance for protests since the army toppled Mubarak's Islamist successor Mohamed Morsi in 2013, unleashing a bloody crackdown on his followers and a deadly militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.

In Sinai, militants who pledged allegiance to IS in November 2014 have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.

Attackers killed five Egyptian policemen in a shooting south of Cairo in mid-July, the interior ministry said, in the latest of a series of assaults on the country's security forces.

The ministry said three gunmen opened fire on a police car and then fled, killing a non-commissioned officer, three conscripts and a police employee.

The attack took place near Badrasheen, a town about 20km from Cairo, where militants have also targeted police in the past.

No group or individual claimed the attack.

The killings came as police and the army said they are closing in on militants and jihadists following a spate of deadly attacks in the Nile Valley and the Sinai Peninsula.

IS militants killed at least 21 soldiers in restive north Sinai on 7 July, the same day as the militant Hasam group claimed the shooting dead of an officer with Egypt's secret police in northern Cairo.

While smaller groups like Hasam have mostly targeted policemen and government officials, IS has also attacked foreign tourists and Egypt's Coptic Christian minority.

Dozens of Christians have been killed in church bombings and shootings since last December in attacks claimed by IS.

Two church bombings in April prompted the government to declare emergency law, which expands the police's powers of arrests and can lead to expedited trials.

Police say groups like Hasam and Lewaa al-Thawra, which has claimed several attacks near Cairo, are linked to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement that was blacklisted as a terrorist group after his overthrow.

The Brotherhood says it rejects violence, but the group - once the largest Islamist grassroots organisation in the region - has splintered since Morsi's removal.

The group was severely weakened in a crackdown following his overthrow. Hundreds of supporters were killed in clashes with police, and thousands more jailed.