Egypt police kill 11 suspected 'terrorists' in Sinai shootout

The interior ministry said police were still identifying the suspected militants killed in the raid that comes after Egypt's worst terror attack on Rawdah mosque

epa06354387 Egyptian Jornalists hold candles and the Egyptian national flag during candlelight vigil for victims of al-Rawda mosque attack, in front of the Journalists Syndicate, in Cairo, Egypt, 27 November 2017. 305 people were killed and 128 injured after a bomb was detonated at a mosque and fire opened on worshippers during Friday prayers in the Sinai town of Bir al-Abd, near Arish (400km northeast of Cairo) on 24 November.  EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

Cairo // Egyptian security forces killed 11 suspected "terrorist elements" during a raid on a hideout for militants providing support for extremists in northern Sinai.

The interior ministry said police were still identifying the suspected militants killed in the raid in Ismailiya province after they opened fire on security forces approaching the hideout.

Militants carried out a bomb and gun assault on a mosque in Rawda village in North Sinai province on Friday, killing 305 people - the deadliest in Egypt's recent history - in an attack thought to have been carried out by ISIL.

It is widely believed in Egypt that the massacre took place at the mosque because Sufi Muslims worshipped there.

The raid on the hideout was part of a security campaign in the province of Ismailiya around the Suez Canal separating the Sinai Peninsula from the rest of the country, and in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya.

Police were pursuing leaders of "terrorist groups in North Sinai that aimed to carry out a series of hostile operations targeting important and vital buildings and Christian churches," the statement said.

Security forces were able to identify "a group of these elements and the hideouts they were using to hide, train, and store means of logistic support ahead of smuggling them to terrorist groups in North Sinai".

The statement said police also arrested six suspected militants and three people thought to have smuggled communications equipment to them.

It said weapons, ammunition and communication devices were recovered.

In the Rawda attack, authorities said up to 30 militants in camouflage and flying the black banner of ISIL surrounded the mosque and massacred worshippers during weekly Friday prayers.

Another 128 people were wounded.

Egypt's North Sinai-based ISIL branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, as well as civilians accused of working with the authorities, since the July 2013 removal from power of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The extremist group has also targeted Sufis and Christians since authorities cracked down on Morsi supporters.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi declared three days of mourning and vowed to "respond with brutal force" to Friday's killings, among the deadliest in the world since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The army said warplanes struck militant hideouts in the North Sinai in retaliation.