Egyptian military officials say troops have killed 16 members of an al-Qaida-inspired militant group in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

The officials say four leading members of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis were arrested during the operations, which were still underway early Tuesday.

The assault was carried out against militant hideouts in three villages south of the town of Sheikh Zuweyid and in the Mahdiya village near Rafah, which is on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed most of the major militant attacks in Egypt since the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. It has also recently beheaded several people it accused of spying for Israel.