CAIRO: Gunmen believed to be Islamist militants shot dead two Egyptian soldiers in north Sinai on Thursday, security officials said.
The dawn attack by four men armed with automatic weapons and on motorcycles came after Islamist militants distributed pamphlets calling on the army, brought in to restore security, to leave the lawless north of the peninsula.
The attack took place in the town of Sheikh Zuwaid, roughly 15 kilometres (9 miles) west of the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
The military sent tanks and soldiers into the region last year to quell Islamist militants, after receiving permission from Israel. Under a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, Egypt should have a limited military presence in the area.
Sinai-based Islamist militants are believed to have been responsible for several rocket attacks against Israel, which also blamed them for a cross-border ambush last year that killed nine Israelis.
The militants are also blamed for regular bombings of a pipeline that exports gas to Israel and Jordan.