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Official: 2 Egyptian soldiers killed, 8 wounded in operation targeting Sinai militants

  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi hold his poster as they raise their hands with four fingers which has become a symbol of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where Morsi supporters had held a sit-in for weeks that was violently dispersed in August, during a protest in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Arabic reads, " my life is the cost to defend legitimacy, and Morsi will be back. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)The Associated Press

  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi raise flags with a logo showing a hand with four raised fingers which has become a symbol of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where Morsi supporters had held a sit-in for weeks that was violently dispersed in August, during a protest in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)The Associated Press

  • Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi raise Arabic posters that read, "boycott the referendum on the coup constitution," during a protest in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. The January 14-15 vote on the draft constitution will be the first real test of the post-Morsi regime, which is hoping for a comfortable “yes” majority to enshrine its legitimacy. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood says it will boycott the vote and is calling on its followers to take to the streets during the two-day referendum. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)The Associated Press

A security official in Egypt says clashes between soldiers and wanted al-Qaida-inspired militants in the northern Sinai Peninsula have killed two soldiers and wounded eight.

The official says heavy gunfire Friday rocked a village called el-Mahdiya along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. He says troops backed by armored vehicles are fighting against three of the most-wanted Ansar Jerusalem militants, including Shadi el-Manaei, a suspected mastermind of the previous attacks.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

Ansar Jerusalem, like other Sinai-based al-Qaida-inspired groups, have been blamed for rising attacks against Egypt's military and police since the military ousted former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on July 3.