CAIRO : A gang of arms traffickers killed six Egyptian border guards on Sunday after they crossed into the country from Libya, the military said.

“The army deplores the killing of an officer and five soldiers from the army’s border protection corps attacked by arms traffickers while patrolling a mountainous area,” it said in a statement. The attack, in Egypt’s northwest, happened shortly after midnight, with the assailants believed to be Egyptians, a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“This attack comes after border guards successfully arrested 68 traffickers and seized a large quantity of weapons,” the army statement said, without elaborating or giving a date for the operation. Libya has been awash with weapons and gripped by unrest since the NATO-backed uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Gaddafi in 2011, with the rival militias who ousted him vying for control.

A wave of insecurity in Egypt boosted the popularity of former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who scored a crushing presidential election victory last week.