Five people were killed on Tuesday in a gun battle between Egyptian police and a group of Bedouin suspected of helping the men who bombed three tourist resorts in Sinai in October, police sources said.
Three police officers, one of the suspects and a bystander were killed in the clash, which is still going on near the Sinai town of Ras Sudr, 150km east of Cairo, they said.
Police have sealed off an area in the hills near Ras Sudr after receiving information that two of the four bombers were hiding there, they said.
At least 34 people – Egyptians, Israelis, Russians and Italians – were killed in the three bombings, which appeared to target east Sinai resorts frequented by Israelis. Police have said the other two bombers were killed by their own bomb.
Police said in October they had arrested five men, all Sinai Bedouin, as accomplices in the bombings. Most of them were from the north coast town of El Arish, near the Israeli border.
They named the two fugitives at the time as Mohamed Ahmed Saleh Fulayfel and Hammad Gumaa.
Police had concentrated their investigations on the El Arish area, where human rights groups say they have detained up to 2 500 people for questioning for varying periods, subjecting many of them to torture. The authorities deny the torture.