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Smugglers kill 6 Egyptian army border guards, including officer, in gunbattle

CAIRO — Smugglers have killed six Egyptian army border guards, including an officer, in a gunbattle in the remote southwest, the military announced today.

The official Facebook page of Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, a military spokesman, said smugglers and outlaws attacked a border patrol in retaliation for a recent string of successes against smugglers in the area. It did not say when the attack took place.

Security officials said the battle took place late Saturday in the Wadi el-Gadid province, which borders Sudan to the south and Libya to the west. They said the clash followed a desert chase, but gave no further details.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information.

Egypt has been stepping up patrols along its porous border with Libya to prevent weapons smuggling as well as the infiltration of Islamic militants. It has been increasingly concerned over the chaos in Libya following the overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Egypt says many of the weapons used by Islamic militants fighting troops and police in the northern Sinai Peninsula come from Libya. Over the past year Egyptian authorities have announced the seizure of large caches of weapons they say were smuggled across the desert border with Libya, including rockets, heavy machine guns and ammunition.

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