EL-ARISH, Egypt — Islamic State group militants killed at least six Bedouins on Tuesday in an ambush over their alleged collaboration with the Egyptian military in the restive part of the country's Sinai Peninsula, security officials said.
The ambush took place in the mountainous Maghara area in central Sinai when militants from a local IS affiliate established a fake checkpoint and opened fire on two vehicles carrying Bedouins, the officials said. They said a seventh Bedouin was missing following the attack.
The Bedouins are from the nomadic Arab Trabin tribe.
The two security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Egypt has been battling militants in the northern part of Sinai Peninsula for years. Violence and instability there intensified after the 2013 military ouster of Mohammed Morsi, an elected but divisive Islamist president amid nationwide protests against his brief rule. The militants carried out numerous attacks, mainly targeting security forces, minority Christians and those who they accuse of collaborating with the military and police.
The pace of IS attacks in Sinai's main theater and elsewhere has slowed to a trickle since February 2018, when the military launched a massive operation in Sinai that also encompassed parts of the Nile Delta and deserts along the country's western border with Libya.
The seven tribesmen were allegedly collaborating with security forces in the region as part of the so-called Sinai Tribes Union, which helps provide intelligence to the military and police forces.
The Bedouins, with their local knowledge, accompany forces on patrols and raids searching for weapons cashes. They also man checkpoints to control roads. Scores of Bedouins have been killed in the past couple of years.
Also on Monday, the militants shot dead a conscript on duty in Gifgafa village in central Sinai, the officials said.
The fight against militants in Sinai has largely taken place hidden from the public eye, with journalists, non-residents and outside observers barred from the area. The conflict has also been kept at a distance from tourist resorts at the southern end of the peninsula.