CAIRO: A policeman was killed and three others wounded on Tuesday (Apr 18) when gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint near St Catherine's monastery in Egypt's Sinai, the interior ministry said, in an attack claimed by Islamic State militants.
"A number of gunmen ... facing one of the checkpoints on the road to St Catherine's in south Sinai shot at security forces at the checkpoint," the interior ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page.
Security forces returned fire, wounding some of the attackers and "forcing them to flee", it said. The police were pursuing efforts to find the gunmen, the ministry said.
Khalid Abu Hashem, the health ministry official for South Sinai province, earlier told state television that one person had been killed and four wounded.
The injured were in a stable condition and had been taken to hospital in the nearby Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, he said.
IS claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after. "The attack that took place near St. Catherine Monastery in south Sinai was carried out by Islamic State fighters," the group's Amaq propaganda agency said on social media accounts, citing a "security source".
St Catherine's monastery, a Christian site which lies some 500 kilometres southeast of Cairo in the south of the Sinai peninsula, attracts thousands of visitors a year.
The attack comes nine days after Palm Sunday services at Coptic Christian churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria were bombed by the Islamic State group, killing 45 people.
IS has threatened to carry out more attacks on the minority, which makes up about 10 per cent of Egypt's 92 million people.
Egypt is battling a militant insurgency in north Sinai that has killed hundreds of policemen and troops since the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
In October 2015, IS claimed the bombing of a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers home from the popular south Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.