This photo posted on a file sharing website, January 11, 2017, by Daesh in Sinai, shows a deadly attack by militants on an Egyptian police checkpoint, in El Arish, north Sinai, Egypt. Image Credit: AP

Cairo: Egyptian security forces had killed three Islamist extremists suspected of involvement in executing a Coptic man kidnapped in the Sinai Peninsula.

The Interior Ministry said the three suspects are part of a radical group planning to attack the minority Christians, their places of worship and security forces.

Earlier this week, the radical self-styled Sinai Province Group, an affiliate of the terrorist Daesh, released a video showing an Egyptian Copt who identified himself as Nabil Habashi kidnapped in North Sinai since last November. He is seen kneeling before three persons shoot at him.

The Interior Ministry said that three members of the “highly dangerous” radical group had been spotted inside a pick-up truck in North Sinai preparing for a “hostile” operation.

When besieged by a security force, they shot intensely at the force that returned the fire. The gunbattle resulted in the killing of the three and the detonation of an explosive that was worn by one of them, according to the ministry.

Three automatic rifles, another explosive belt, a hand grenade and ammunition were also found in the possession of the three after their killing.

The ministry said that security forces are hunting for three other militants involved in killing the 62-year-old Copt.

The Coptic Church mourned Habashi, describing him as a “devoted son and servant”. The church renewed its support for the state anti-terror efforts.

Egypt has seen a spate of militant attacks targeting Christians and security forces since the army deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013 following massive street protests against his divisive rule.