The leader of an Islamic State affiliated group in Egypt’s restive Sinai province and 45 other militants have been killed in an army operation, officials said today. 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, the capital city of North Sinai in an operation by Egypt’s armed forces, army spokesperson Brigadier General Mohamed Samir said in a statement. Many others were injured in the army raid, Samir said. Ansar Beit el-Maqdes had pledged allegiance to Islamic State militant group in 2014.
Egypt’s North Sinai has witnessed many violent attacks by militants in the last few years, particularly since the January 2011 revolution that toppled the ex-president Hosni Mubarak. The most recent attack came on June 30 when an Egyptian Coptic Priest was shot dead in an attack claimed the Islamic State militant group. The priest was shot in the head as he was standing next to his car in el-Arish. In 2013, pro-Islamists attacked and torched down several churches in the area after the police killed hundreds of supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. Jihadists have also targeted tourists in the Sinai region.
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.