A Palestinian traveller passes Egyptians soldiers standing guards on the Egyptian side of the border to cross over, Reuters
A group of Jihadists operating in the Sinai Peninsula have warned the Egyptian government they will fight back the military offensive launched in the region.

Jihadists in the Sinai peninsula have warned the Egyptian government they will fight back against a military offensive.

Government troops have been hunting down Islamist militants in the region, which borders Israel, after an attack on a military base that killed 16 Egyptian border guards.

In a message posted on a website that carries statements from terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, the militants denied involvement in the original attack.

They explained that they do not target Egyptians as their fight focuses on the "Zionist enemy", Israel.

"Prevent bloodshed, blood which has been spilled and which will be spilled if this aggression continues," their statement warned. "You are dragging us into a battle that is not ours.

"Our weapon is not directed at you. We don't want to turn our rage against you. Have mercy on the soldiers you are using as fuel in the battle" the statement said.

The statement has not been independently verified and it is unclear who is behind it.

The post is signed by "the Jihadist Salafis of Sinai" which could refer to several small Jihadist groups operating in the area.

It blamed jihadist groups for past attacks on Sinai's gas pipeline that delivers gas from Egypt to Israel and Jordan, but did not name them.

The group also said that jihadists Salafis had fired rockets at Israel, a claim repeatedly denied by Egypt.

Some politicians and analysts fear Salafis militants in Sinai and Gaza could join forces and turn to al-Qaida for support.