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Egypt's military kills at least 20 suspected Islamic militants in restive Sinai Peninsula

Egyptian military officials say troops backed by helicopters have raided suspected militants' hideouts in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 20 and wounding 25.

They say Monday's sweep, which led to the arrest of 16 suspected militants, was among the biggest in an ongoing offensive against militants waging an insurgency in the strategic area bordering the Gaza Strip and Israel.

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

The raids are part of an escalation of the fighting in Sinai.

On Friday, army aircraft pounded suspected militants' positions, killing 13 people. Late last month, militants, some of whom are linked to al-Qaida, shot down an army helicopter, killing all five men on board.