CAIRO - Gunmen killed an Egyptian intelligence officer and a policeman on a road outside Cairo in a late-night firefight, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday.

The armed men fled the scene after shooting dead Captain Ashraf Badeer el-Qazaz of the intelligence service and a police conscript, the ministry said in a statement.

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The two men were on security patrol late on Saturday on a desert road linking Cairo to the canal city of Suez when they tried to stop a vehicle, which then opened fire on them.

Islamist militants have stepped up attacks on members of the security forces and killed hundreds of them since the army toppled Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, last July.

Militants have recently shown their ability to strike beyond the Sinai Peninsula, the initial base of their attacks following Morsi's ouster. The group Ajnad Misr claimed responsibility on Saturday for a blast in Cairo on Friday that killed one police officer.

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