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Egypt ’kills head of Islamic State’s Sinai branch’

Thursday 4 August 2016, by siawi3


04.08.2016 1 hour ago
From the section Middle East

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A funeral convoy of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis fighters in Sinai in 2013

The Egyptian military says it has killed the head of the Sinai branch of so-called Islamic State (IS), along with dozens of its fighters.

It said Abu Duaa al-Ansari was killed in a series of air strikes on fighters of the Sinai Province - or Ansar Beit al-Maqdis - group.

The air strikes targeted jihadist strongholds near the town of El-Arish.

Sinai Province is Egypt’s most active insurgent group and has been linked to deadly attacks in Sinai and Cairo.

The Egyptian military said: "The raids left more than 45 terrorists killed, dozens of others injured and several arms caches destroyed."

Brig-Gen Mohammed Samir said in a posting on Facebook that Ansari was killed in an operation guided by "accurate intelligence".

The posting did not say when the operation was carried out.

Sinai Province: Egypt’s most dangerous group

The air strikes were on southern and south-western areas of El-Arish, the largest town in northern Sinai.

The jihadist group, which has been active in the Sinai peninsula since 2011, has not commented on the army’s statement.

Pledged allegiance

Islamist militancy has risen in Egypt since the army deposed President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sinai, including here in El-Arish, has seen multiple Islamist attacks in recent years

On Wednesday, a video said to be from the IS Sinai affiliate issued a rare direct threat to Israel, saying it would soon "pay a high price".

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem) changed its name to Sinai Province after it pledged allegiance to IS in November 2014.

In 2015, Sinai Province staged a series of attacks against the army, whose scale and complexity indicated the possibility of closer co-ordination with the IS leadership in Syria.

Sinai Province was thought to be aiming to take control of the Sinai peninsula in order to turn it into an Islamist province.

The number of active Sinai Province members is believed to be between 1,000 and 1,500.