The leader of an Islamic State (ISIS) affiliated group in Egypt’s restive Sinai province and 45 other militants have been killed in an army operation, officials said on Friday.
Abu Doaa el-Ansari, the leader of the Sinai-based militant group – Ansar Beit el-Maqdes – and 45 other militants, including some of his senior aides, were killed in el-Arish city of North Sinai in an operation by Egypt’s armed forces, army spokesperson Brigadier General Mohamed Samir said in a statement on Facebook.
Many others were injured in the army raid while it destroyed depots where weapons, ammunition and explosives were stashed, Samir said. Ansar Beit el-Maqdes had pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2014. The group has also claimed responsibility for downing the Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers from an Egyptian resort last year, that killed all 224 people on board.
Egypt’s North Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip, has witnessed many violent attacks by militants in the last few years, particularly since the January 2011 revolution that toppled ex-president Hosni Mubarak.
The attacks targeting police and military personnel increased after the ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following massive protests against his rule. Over 700 security personnel have been reported killed since then.
The military has launched security operations in the area, arrested suspects and demolished houses that belong to terrorists, including those facilitating tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip.