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7 civilians, 1 soldier killed following militant attack in Egypt's Sinai

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El-ARISH, Egypt — Militants in Egypt's northern Sinai fired mortar rounds late Sunday at a military post in the provincial capital of el-Arish, killing a soldier as well as seven civilians, including two children, in a nearby residential complex, security and hospital officials said.

A senior security official said the attack late Sunday hit the military post, killing one soldier. The military post is located near a compound of residential buildings in the al-Salam district. The main security headquarters and the local government offices are also located in the same area.

The official , who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said a supermarket, pharmacy and a residential building also were hit by mortar fire.

Samy Anwar, the head of el-Arish hospital, said seven civilians were killed in the attack, including a 10-year old girl and a 12-year old boy. He said 24 others were wounded, including an 11-year-old girl.

The attack comes as Israel's offensive against the neighboring Gaza Strip enters its sixth day. More than 160 Palestinians have been killed. Palestinian militant groups have fired rockets at Israel but caused no deaths. Despite international calls for a cease-fire, the violence showed no sign of easing.

Militants in Sinai have also fired rockets at Israel in support of Palestinian groups in the past days. Officials here said they foiled a new attempt to fire rockets at Israel Sunday.

Militants have found a haven in northern Sinai, particularly after the turmoil in Egypt since 2011. They have mainly targeted military and police forces in the peninsula, and rarely hit civilians, in a wave of attacks that increased following the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

The military has waged an offensive against the militants in the Sinai, reducing the attacks against troops. But the militant groups have increasingly pushed their attacks toward Cairo and other provinces in Egypt.

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