Masked gunmen on a motorcycle killed four Egyptian policemen south of Cairo, the interior ministry said, in an attack claimed by the so-called Islamic State group.

The policemen died when the assailants fired on their vehicle in an area between the famed Giza pyramids west of Cairo and the Saqarra pyramids to the south, the ministry said.

The jihadist group said a "security detachment from the soldiers of the caliphate" targeted the checkpoint and killed at least four officers and wounded several others, according to US monitors SITE Intelligence Group.

Islamist militants have killed scores of policemen and soldiers, mostly in the Sinai Peninsula, since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Attacks have also targeted policemen and government buildings in the capital, several of them claimed by an IS affiliate.

The extremists often claim their attacks are retaliation for a police crackdown on Islamist protesters, which has killed hundreds and left thousands in prison since Morsi's overthrow.

The Egyptian military has struggled to quell the IS jihadists in Sinai, who claimed responsibility for bombing a Russian passenger plane on 31 October over the peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

But the militants have suffered more losses in Cairo, with police repeatedly killing or arresting cells in the capital.

The interior ministry announced earlier this month the killing of a top IS operative in Cairo suspected of involvement in the abduction and murder of a Croatian oil worker, and the bombing of the Italian consulate.

Ashraf Ali Ali Hassanein al-Gharabli died in a hail of bullets after he opened fire on policemen who tried to arrest him in the north of the capital, the ministry said.