At least five soldiers and more than a dozen gunmen killed in twin-ambush in northern Sinai, police sources say.Two ambushes by armed men in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula have killed at least five soldiers, according to Egyptian security officials.

The attacks early on Thursday, that also wounded at least 11 other soldiers and several civilians, came as Egypt continued its battle against armed groups operating in the northern Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Gunmen opened fire on soldiers with automatic rifles and rockets at checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, the Agence France-Press news agency reported.

Reports from local Egyptian media allege that at least 15 armed men were also killed by the Egyptian military forces during the attacks.

Attacks mainly targeting Egyptian security forces have spiked since the 2013 military coup which toppled President Mohamed Morsi following protests against his rule.

Most of the biggest attacks have been claimed by a Sinai-based group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) last year.

The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief reporters.

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