Egyptian army kills militant leader, 2 others in Al-Arish

Ahram Online, Sunday 31 Aug 2014

The slain militant is a key suspect in the kidnapping of seven police and military personnel in 2013

File Photo: Egyptian army personnel guard the road just outside Rafah, Egypt (Photo: AP)

The key suspect in the kidnapping of a number of security personnel last year was killed by security forces in North Sinai on Sunday, a police official told Reuters' Aswat Masriya.

In May 2013, armed assailants kidnapped seven police and army recruits in North Sinai to demand that the families of the kidnappers, who were arrested on charges related to militant bombing attacks, be released. The seven men were freed a week later after intervention by security forces.

A joint police and army campaign attacked a house in Sinai on Sunday after receiving a tip that Fayez Abdallah Hamdan Abu-Sheta, a militant leader in the region, was present at the building, according to Ali Azazi, the assistant director of the North Sinai Security Directorate.

A shootout ensued between security personnel and the militants, killing Abu-Sheta, another militant, and a 16-year-old girl present in the house, Azazi added.

Al-Ahram Arabic website reported that clashes are still ongoing, with the head of the North Sinai Security Directorate, Fouad Othman, arriving at the scene with additional reinforcements.

Al-Khazan Street where the clashes are taking place has been cordoned off from all sides by army tanks and mosques in the city of Al-Arish and people have been warned not to approach the area.

Three security personnel have been injured in the shootout and transported to hospital.

Egyptian troops in the Sinai Peninsula, which adjoins Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, are fighting a number of Islamist militant groups that launch regular attacks. Violence has worsened since the army's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Militant attacks have mainly targeted police and troops but have also led to civilian casualties.


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