Five extremists were killed Wednesday (December 20th) near al-Arish airport in Egypt's North Sinai where a rocket strike killed two officers during a visit by the defence and interior ministers, AFP reported.
The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) claimed responsibility for Tuesday's strike on the airport, saying in a statement it had targeted visiting Defence Minister Sedki Sobhy and Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar.
The military said after the attack that an officer was killed and a helicopter damaged when a "projectile" struck the airport while the ministers were visiting "to inspect the security forces and security situation in Sinai".
Neither minister was harmed and the military later published footage of them returning to Cairo, but a second officer has died of his injuries, security sources said.
They said five extremists were killed in a shootout with security forces combing farmlands surrounding the airport a day after the strike.
Al-Arish airport 'fully secured'
ISIS has killed hundreds of soldiers and police in North Sinai, and has expanded its attacks over the past year to target Christians in the mainland.
ISIS operates in areas adjacent to al-Arish, Col. Khaled Okasha, a retired army officer who serves on the National Council for Combating Terrorism, told Al-Mashareq.
"The rocket that was fired at the airport has a somewhat long range," he said, noting however that al-Arish airport is fully secured and "no takfirist elements can approach it".
"The armed forces will not go back on their goal of completely ridding North Sinai of terrorism," he said.
Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa on Tuesday strongly condemned the attack and called for a "crackdown with an iron fist" on terror groups that seek to destroy the country.
The religious institution urged Egyptians to stand by the army and police forces in confronting terrorism.