Egyptian military ‘kills leader of Islamic State group in Sinai’

Egyptian Army

Egyptian Army

Egypt’s military said on Thursday it had killed Abu Duaa al-Ansari, whom it identified as the leader of the Sinai branch of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group.

The military said on its Facebook page that a series of air strikes near Arish, the largest town on the Sinai peninsula, had also killed 45 other IS group fighters.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Sinai Province militants, the IS group’s offshoot in the peninsula that borders Israel, the Gaza Strip and the Suez Canal.

“This successful operation confirms the pledges of the armed forces to avenge their martyrs and … pursue all the terrorist elements and leaders wherever they are found until Egypt and its great people enjoy security and stability,” the military said.

Hundreds of soldiers and policemen have been killed by an insurgency that began in mid-2013, when then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi following mass protests.

Violent northern Sinai

Most of the violence has taken place in northern Sinai, where IS group loyalists are based.

The military has conducted several campaigns to wipe out the insurgents and cut off their arms supplies. The Egyptians demolished border villages and tunnels it said were being used to smuggle arms and fighters from the Gaza Strip. However, locals say the tunnels were used to smuggle basic supplies and consumer goods to Gaza to ease the consequences of the Israeli blockade.

Sinai Province was originally known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, and pledged allegiance to the IS group.

The army, which still refers to the group by its former name, did not say when the air strikes took place.