Egyptian military tanks, flags in Sinai.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Egyptian troops shot dead an Islamist terrorist described as a leader of the
Sinai group that claimed a failed attempt on the life of the interior minister
and the murder of a high-level security official, the military said on
Attacks on soldiers and policemen in Sinai have become
commonplace since the army ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July in
the face of mass unrest over his rule.
The Egyptian army said Ibrahim
Abou Eita was killed in an exchange of gunfire with soldiers near the town of
Sheikh Zuweid in Sinai and it described him as a leader of the Islamist
terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.
The army referred to Abou Eita,
also known as Abou Suheib, in a statement on Facebook as “one of the most
dangerous” terrorists in North Sinai, who had been sought for attacks on
security forces in the region.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis had claimed
responsibility for killing an official who security sources say had been due to
testify in one of several legal cases against Morsi, and for a bid to kill
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim with a car bomb in September.
officials have been assessing the threat posed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which is
said to have 700 to 1,000 members. It is considered to be the second-largest
Islamist militant group in Sinai behind Salafiya Jihadiya, which has an
estimated following of around 5,000 members.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, whose
name means “Supporters of Jerusalem”, has claimed rocket attacks launched on
Israel from Sinai and at least 10 attacks in the past two years on a gas
pipeline linking Egypt, Israel and Jordan.
On Sunday, army spokesman
Ahmed Muhammad Ali said that the Egyptian army had found two vehicles rigged
with explosives in North Sinai intended for suicide bomb
Security forces shot at one vehicle, causing it to explode
before reaching a security base in Sheikh Zuweid, the Egyptian State Information
Service website reported.
DNA samples are being taken from the remains of
the suicide bombers in order to identify them.
A second bombing attempt
was thwarted when a car with no license plates was detected and when the
security forces shot at the car it exploded.
Separately, an Egyptian
court sentenced three Morsi supporters to life imprisonment, judicial sources
said on Monday, in the latest tough ruling against opponents of the army-backed
The court in Qalyubia province, near Cairo, sent the
three men to jail for 25 years for attacking security forces, terrorizing
citizens, possessing firearms and damaging public and private property during a
The sentence coincided with the first court appearance
of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie for inciting violence since he was
arrested in a state crackdown on the group.
It came days after a court
decided to release fourteen Islamist women jailed for 11 years after they
demonstrated in support of Morsi, slashing their sentences in a case that had
outraged opposition groups and human rights campaigners.
dispersed camps set up by protesters demanding Morsi’s reinstatement on August
14, killing hundreds. Most of the Brotherhood’s leadership has been arrested
since the army overthrew Morsi in July following mass protests against his
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was banned by a Cairo court in
September. Morsi is himself standing trial on charges of inciting the killing of
protesters during violence outside the presidential palace a year ago.