CAIRO - Three Egyptian policemen died on Saturday when gunmen fired on their car in the northern Sinai Peninsula city of al-Arish before escaping, security sources said.

A police source said the attackers were probably Islamist militants who Egyptian forces have been hunting - the biggest security crackdown the region near Israel has seen in decades - following the killing of 16 border guards on August 5.

Disorder has spread in Sinai since autocrat Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising last year, with militants stepping up attacks on security forces and the Israeli border. Egypt's new elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, has pledged to restore security in the poor, desolate region.

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