CAIRO (Reuters) - A police officer was killed and another injured after gunmen shot at them in Egypt's north Sinai region, the interior ministry said.

Security sources say they could not confirm if the incident was a militant attack by Jihadist groups they have been tracking since last August when an attack at a checkpoint near the Rafah border killed 16 soldiers and officers.

In the latest incident, First Lieutenant Mohamed Ahmed Thabet was shot dead and Corporal Hussein Mohamed al-Haddad was injured with a bullet wound in the abdomen, the statement carried on Tuesday by state news agency MENA said.

"The forces were attacked by criminal elements who fired a barrage of heavy gunfire that was returned by the police force, but they (the attackers) managed to escape," the statement said.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Michael Roddy)