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Egypt launches offensive against Sinai insurgents

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ASHRAF SWEILAM | September 7, 2013 05:50 AM EST | AP

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EL-ARISH, Egypt — A military official says Egyptian helicopters and tanks are attacking Islamic militants in villages in the northern Sinai Peninsula. He says "dozens" have been killed or wounded.

The Saturday assault came after Egypt deployed a column of armored vehicles and trucks carrying infantry into the region, a militant stronghold, in a major new counterinsurgency offensive, the official said.

He said columns of smoke could be seen rising from several villages near the towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweyid on the border with the Gaza Strip and Israel. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.

Multiple al-Qaida-inspired militant groups have stepped up attacks against security forces in the Sinai since the ouster of Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi on July 3.