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ISIS claims responsibility for attack on police checkpoint near Sinai monastery

(Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo)Special police forces stand guard as a Greek monk is seen on the top of a church at Saint Catherine's monastery, in the Sinai Peninsula, south of Egypt, in this file photo taken December 8, 2015.

The Islamic State has taken credit for the attack that killed one policeman and wounded four others at an Egyptian police checkpoint near the Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai on Tuesday.

Tuesday's attack occurred at a checkpoint about 875 yards from the entrance to the monastery, which is considered as one of the world's most important Christian sites.

The monastery is located in a remote desert and mountainous area in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula.

The militants opened fire from an elevated hilltop overlooking the checkpoint, Egypt's Interior Ministry said in a statement.

According to SITE Intelligence Group, which keeps track of the online activity of militants, announced the attack through the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency. This marks the first time ISIS carried out an attack on a monastery, according to The Associated Press.

The monastery, which was built in the sixth century, is a popular site for tourists who are visiting the Red Sea resorts along Sinai's southern coast.

Security has been put on high alert at tourist facilities across southern Sinai following the incident, Reuters reported.

The attack came just after the Palm Sunday bombings that were carried out by suicide bombers on two churches in the Nile Delta city of Tanta and the coastal city of Alexandria. ISIS also claimed responsibility for the twin bombings that killed 45 people.

The terror group has warned that there will be more attacks against Egypt's Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country's population of over 90 million people.

Following the twin bombings, the Egyptian government declared a three-month state of emergency and deployed armed forces to help police in guarding vital installations, including churches.

Despite the state of emergency, militants were still able to carry out near-daily attacks against police and security forces in northern Sinai. The terror group had recently stepped up its attacks, moving its activities from Sinai to other parts of Egypt.

Many Christian families and students fled from North Sinai in February due to a spate of targeted killings.

Earlier this month, Israel barred its citizens from traveling to the Sinai Peninsula, saying the threat of attacks in the area inspired by ISIS and other jihadi groups was high.

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