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Egypt to try 20 suspected in terrorist attacks

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's chief prosecutor charged 20 suspected militants Saturday with carrying terrorist attacks that killed seven people and wounded more than 100, amid new clashes between soldiers and insurgents in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

The statement released by Hisham Barakat's office said those charged belonged to a terror group called Ajnad Misr, which started its attacks after the July ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. The group's name means “Soldiers of Egypt” in Arabic.

The statement said the suspected militants planted explosives around police stations and security checkpoints. It said 14 suspected members are in custody and six others are on the run.

Ajnad Misr has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks since November, including bomb blasts that took place outside a presidential palace.

Meanwhile Saturday, insurgent-fired rockets targeting security forces struck civilian homes in the town of Sheikh Zuwayed, killing at least three people, including two children, and wounding five others, security officials said.

In raids Friday and Saturday, soldiers killed 26 suspected militants and arrested more than 50 others in northern Sinai, a military official said.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

The raids follow the killing of two senior officers Friday, also in Sinai, when gunmen opened fire on the officers' vehicle and fled.

Assaults mainly targeting security forces have spiked in the restive Sinai Peninsula and elsewhere since Morsi's ouster. The government designated Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, blaming them and their Islamist allies of orchestrating the violence to destabilize the country. The Brotherhood has denied using violence.

The military has responded with a wide-scale offensive to quash the insurgency.

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Associated Press writer Ashraf Sweilam in el-Arish, Egypt, contributed to this report.

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