An al-Qaida-inspired group based in the Sinai Peninsula has claimed responsibility for bringing down an Egyptian military helicopter in the lawless desert region.

A military spokesman said Saturday the aircraft crashed, without giving a cause or the number of the crew.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, in a statement posted late Saturday on militant websites said it shot down the helicopter with an anti-aircraft missile over the town of Sheikh Zuweyid close to the border with the Gaza Strip.

Another poster on the same forum, which jihadist groups typically used to make announcements, said authorities had recovered the bodies of five crewmembers. He gave what he said were their names and ranks, as well as the alleged photo of a pilot.