Seven people were killed on Monday when militants robbed a bank and engaged in a shootout with security forces in northern Sinai in Egypt, security sources said.
Four policemen were killed in the attack when five SUVs, each carrying four gunmen, fired at security forces nearby the unused Saint George Church before robbing a branch of National Bank of Egypt, in al-Arish, the capital of North Sinai.
Three civilians were also killed in the assault, officials said.
“They looted the entire bank and left explosive devices inside,” a senior security official said.
“The militants fired shots randomly in the street as if they were celebrating with some of them raising their black flags (of ISIS) and they roamed the streets for about 20 minutes then disappeared,” said Alaa Lotfy, a shop owner in the area who witnessed the clashes.
Fifteen people were injured in the attack, officials added.
A bank employee appeared to have been kidnapped in Monday’s attack, they revealed.
Security forces cordoned off the city center and evacuated residents living in the bank building.
Pictures posted on social media by locals from al-Arish showed school girls fleeing a school located in the vicinity of the bank and the church.
Services at the church were suspended months ago, following a wave of attacks on Christians in Sinai.
At least 24 militants and six soldiers were killed on Sunday in attacks on military outposts in North Sinai. The attacks were claimed by the ISIS affiliate in Sinai.
On Thursday, six other policemen were also killed in an attack by the terrorists in al-Arish.