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Israeli troops in deadly firefight with militants on Egyptian border

Dudu Grunshpan / Reuters

A wounded Israeli soldier is wheeled into Soroka hospital in the southern city of Beersheba Friday.

Israeli troops on Friday shot dead three militants in an exchange of fire near the border with Egypt, an Israeli army spokeswoman said. 

An Israeli soldier was also killed, Israeli media reported, but the Israeli military declined immediate comment on that report.

"Three armed terrorists crossed the border into Israel and opened fire at troops securing workers who are building the border fence in the area ... They (attackers) were wearing flak jackets and were well-armed and carried explosive belts," spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Avital Leibovich said.

She said she did not have information on the identity or affiliation of the gunmen, but added that soldiers had "managed to thwart a major incident."

In June, militants crossed into Israel from Egypt's Sinai desert and fired on Israelis building a barrier on the border, killing a worker, before soldiers killed two of the attackers.

Israel is putting up the border fence to curb an influx of African migrants and improve security, hoping to complete it by the end of the year. It will run along most of the 165-mile frontier from Eilat, on the Red Sea, to the Gaza Strip. 

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