Egypt's state-run news agency says militants attacked a checkpoint south of northern Sinai's provincial capital of el-Arish, killing eight policemen.

MENA reports that the militants attacked the checkpoint Saturday.

A Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a statement circulated on social media. The Associated Press could not independently verify the authenticity of the claim.

The local IS affiliate has been targeting Egyptian troops in Sinai and claimed the downing of a Russian airliner last October that killed 224 people.

Sinai has been plagued for years by an insurgency, which escalated after the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi amid mass protests against him.