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CAIRO, -- Egypt's military said six soldiers were killed in clashes with armed smugglers near the country's western border with Libya on Thursday.
The soldiers were patrolling the border when they "came under surprise fire" from the smugglers, a military statement said, adding that a number of smugglers were killed in the exchange of fire.
Egypt has contended with militants in the western desert and along the border with Libya, as well as smugglers who bring in weapons and drugs across the long frontier.
It has also been battling a militant insurgency in its eastern Sinai peninsula that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian branch of Daesh claimed responsibility for a shooting attack that killed a Coptic priest in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday.
The jihadist group said a "squad" of its gunmen killed the 46-year-old priest for "combating Islam," in a statement posted on social media accounts.
Police and the Coptic Church had said the priest was gunned down in the North Sinai capital of El-Arish while standing next to his car.
Raphael Moussa was killed instantly when a man shot him in the head while he was standing next to his car in North Sinai capital El-Arish, said Boulos Halim, a church spokesman.
Moussa had earlier left a church where he attended a mass, Halim said.
Security officials said more than one gunman had been involved in the shooting and had followed the priest and opened fire when he emerged from his car.
Moussa was not the first priest killed in Arish. Another, Mina Aboud, was shot dead on July 6, 2013, three days after the Egyptian military toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, unleashing clashes and a crackdown on his supporters.
While no one has claimed responsibility yet for the attack, jihadists in Sinai have targeted Christians before, as well as Muslims they accuse of working with the government.
Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of 90 million, have faced persecution and discrimination that spiked during the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled by a popular uprising in 2011.
Dozens have been killed in recent years in sectarian attacks and clashes throughout Egypt.
Source: Name News Network