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UPDATE 1-Two Egyptian policemen killed by smugglers in Sinai - govt statement

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(Adds Interior Ministry statement)

Ismailia (Egypt), May 7 (Reuters) - Two Egyptian police recruits were killed on Thursday after exchanging fire with smugglers at a border post in the volatile Northern Sinai region, the Interior Ministry said.

Last month, Egypt extended by three months a state of emergency imposed on Northern Sinai in October after Islamist militants stepped up attacks in the remote but strategic peninsula bordering Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal.

The two policemen were shot dead "after exchanging fire with smugglers at the 10th border post in the village of Matalah in Rafah," the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, security sources said that unidentified gunmen in a car shot dead the two policemen who were guarding the gate of a police camp in the city of Rafah.

Insurgents have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen in Sinai since mid-2013, lashing out after then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi following protests. Sisi went on to be elected president.

Sinai Province, an affiliate of Islamic State, which earlier changed its name from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, is the most active militant group in the Sinai and aims to topple the government in Cairo. (Reporting by Yousri Mohamed in Ismailia; Writing by Mahmoud Mourad; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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