Egypt's Ministry of Interior says gunmen have killed a senior police officer in the restive Sinai peninsula.

The ministry says in a statement that Brig. Gen. Ahmed Mohammed Askar was killed late Saturday when militants opened fire on him in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish.

The ministry statement says security forces have cordoned off the area in an attempt to capture the perpetrators of the attack.

Egypt is battling militants, including members of an Islamic State affiliate, who have largely targeted troops in the northern Sinai Peninsula since the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

A claim of responsibility by the IS branch in Egypt, known as Sinai Province of the Islamic State, is circulating on social media accounts of supporters.