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Egypt army hits Sinai militants, at least 30 killed, injured: sources

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Egyptian army mounted a major operation against Islamist militants in North Sinai on Saturday, killing or wounding at least 30 people, security officials said.

Dozens of armored vehicles backed by attack helicopters took part in the operation near Sheikh Zuweid, a few kilometers (miles) from the Palestinian Gaza Strip. Fifteen people were detained in the operation, which the officials said targeted militants responsible for attacks on the security forces.

The operation comes two days after an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim in Cairo. Security officials say the militants behind the suicide bombing were linked to groups in the Sinai.

Hardline groups have expanded into a security vacuum that opened up in North Sinai after the downfall of veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Their attacks have escalated since July 3, when the military deposed president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, with almost daily assaults on the security forces and other targets in the desert peninsula bordering Israel.

(Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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