CAIRO – A leading rights group has accused Egypt's state-controlled media of launching a smear campaign against its staff.

Human Rights Watch says the campaign started after it released a report earlier this week accusing Egyptian security forces of widespread human rights violations while fighting Islamic insurgents in the Sinai peninsula.

The rights group released a statement Thursday saying that some Egyptian journalists had voiced threats of physical harm against its staff members.

HRW's report documented arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings, among other violations against civilians. The New York-based watchdog said militants also committed horrific crimes.

The Egyptian military has dismissed the report as baseless.

Access to northern Sinai has been restricted for years, making it difficult to independently verify what is happening on the ground.

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