Military forces are seen in North Sinai. File picture: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Cairo - Eight Egyptian security personnel were killed early Wednesday in a militant attack in the country's restive Sinai peninsula, the Interior Ministry said.

A group of "terrorist elements" attacked a security checkpoint in Arish, the capital city of North Sinai province, at dawn Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement quoted by state TV.

It added that security forces dealt and exchanged fire with the militants, killing five of them.

"A police officer, a non-commissioned police officer and six conscripts were martyred," the ministry said, adding that a manhunt has been launched.

Egyptians are celebrating Eid al-Fitr, a three-day feast that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Egypt has battled an insurgency in the desert region of Sinai since the 2011 uprising, which toppled long-time autocrat Hosny Mubarak.

Militant attacks, mainly targeting security forces and the country's minority Christian community, intensified after the army deposed the democratically elected but divisive Islamist president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

In a separate incident, the Interior Ministry said security forces killed six "dangerous criminals" involved in the killing of a police officer in Sharqiya province, north-east of Cairo.

The ministry said in a statement that the forces raided a poultry farm in the province where the criminals were hiding and that an exchange of fire took place for three hours, which resulted in the killing of the six.

It added that bombs, seven firearms and a huge amount of bullets were found.

dpa