Insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula exchanged fire with an Egyptian navy ship operating off the Mediterranean coast, setting it on fire, officials said on Thursday.

Militants from an Islamic State (IS) linked group calling itself Sinai Province have since claimed that they fired a rocket at the vessel.

The ship spotted a group of militants while patrolling close to the city of Rafah on the border with Gaza, then moved to engage them resulting in a clash, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir said in a statement on his Facebook page.

It subsequently caught ablaze and other boats were deployed to provide assistance and attempt to locate the attackers, Samir added, noting that there were no navy casualties. The spokesman did not provide any further information on the type of ship involved

Witnesses in Gaza told Agence France-Presse that they had heard an explosion when the vessel was around two miles from the coast.

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