Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula
Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula AFP photo

At least one Egyptian soldier was killed and two were wounded as Islamist gunmen opened fire on the El Arish airport in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and at three military checkpoints early on Friday, state television reported.

According to the report, the attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at the army checkpoints outside the airport, close to the border with Gaza and Israel.

It was not clear whether the coordinated attack was related to the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday.

The Sinai has seen an upsurge in lawlessness since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 that has sparked warnings from Western governments against travel to most parts of the peninsula.

On Tuesday, Egypt's military boosted its presence in the Sinai Peninsula near the border with Gaza.

The IDF confirmed that Egypt had boosted its military presence in the Sinai, where the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries imposed strict controls on deployments, but said the action had been coordinated with Israeli leaders.

Criminal activity such as drugs smuggling and human trafficking has flourished in the Sinai, alongside a growing presence by terrorist groups that has seen attacks on Egyptian security personnel and across the border against Israel.

In August 2012, terrorists killed 16 Egyptian soldiers near the border before commandeering an armored vehicle which they drove into Israel, where they were killed in a helicopter strike.

In March, Bedouin kidnapped an Israeli and a Norwegian tourist in the south of the peninsula, which is dotted with beach resorts, to press for the release of jailed relatives.

The tourists were held for five days and released unharmed.