Egypt: Sinai Islamist leader Shadi al-Menei shot dead

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A funeral convoy carrying the bodies of four Egyptian militants in the Sinai peninsula - 10 August 2013Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
An airstrike in Sinai killed five fighters thought to be members of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis last August

Egyptian security officials say a key leader of a militant group has been shot dead in the Sinai peninsula.

It is not known who shot Ansar Beit al-Maqdis commander Shadi el-Menei.

But several other members of the al-Qaeda-inspired group, which is suspected of a string of recent attacks, were also reportedly killed.

The deaths of more than 200 Egyptian soldiers and officials have been blamed on Ansar Beit al-Maqdis since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in July 2013.

Who are Ansar Beit al-Maqdis?

  • Al-Qaeda-inspired Salafist jihadist group based in Sinai
  • Name means Champions of Jerusalem
  • Critical of Muslim Brotherhood for participating in elections, though some observers believe group has links to the MB
  • Regards interim-backed government an "apostate regime"
  • Has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks around Egypt, and rocket attacks on Israel
  • Group said it was behind bombing of police station in Mansoura in Dec 2013 which killed 16 people

There are conflicting reports as to who was responsible for the killing of the militants.

Unnamed officials were quoted by AFP news agency as saying security forces opened fire on the men as they were about to carry out an attack on a gas pipeline in central Sinai.

A different account came from officials who told the Associated Press that Shadi el-Menei and at least three associates were killed by 15 attackers in revenge for the killings of tribesmen by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.

Islamist groups in the Sinai have stepped up their attacks against Egypt's army and police forces in the past year.

The Egyptian army launched a major operation against militants in the Sinai but attacks have continued.

However, the security operation has come at a cost to authorities. A police officer died of his wounds on Friday after being shot the previous day by militants near the border with the Gaza Strip.

Last week, two army officers and five militants were said to have died in a gunfight during a raid on a warehouse linked to Islamist militants north of Cairo.

Officials said the militants in that attack were from Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.

The US state department designated the group a "foreign terrorist organisation" earlier this year.