Islamic militants kill eight policemen in Egypt

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Eight plainclothes policemen in Egypt have been shot dead on the outskirts of the capital, Cairo, officials reported.

Their white police van was ambushed in the early hours of Sunday morning in the southern district of Helwan.

Four gunmen in a truck sprayed the vehicle with bullets from automatic weapons, the interior ministry said.

Militants affiliated to the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS), who usually operate in the Sinai Peninsula, have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Known as Sinai Province, the ISIS faction has killed hundreds of security personnel in the Sinai region since the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.

The insurgents have recently conducted hit-and-run attacks on police in Cairo and been behind small-scale bombings in the city.

The group posted pictures online, showing several bodies of the policemen riddled with bullets.

It was formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem) and first appeared in September 2011.

It, however, changed its name to Sinai Province and pledged allegiance to IS in November 2014.

The group has intensified its attacks since the 2013 coup which ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Last year October, it claimed to be responsible for the downing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai.

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Photo: The van which the policemen were in

The ISIS statement said the fighters, who were reportedly wearing masks, seized light weapons from the policemen before they fled unharmed, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The statement said the attack was in revenge for Islamist women held in Egyptian jails.

The policemen, who were patrolling the area when the truck blocked their path, included a lieutenant and seven low-ranking officers, the interior ministry said.

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