Retired Egypt officer killed as police announce arrests

Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim announced that police had arrested the leaders of a deadly militant group in the Nile Deltaa

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Militants shot dead a retired Egyptian army colonel on Sunday, security and medical officials said, hours after assailants killed a soldier in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

The interior minister, meanwhile, announced that police had arrested the leaders of a deadly militant group that targeted policemen in the Nile Delta, where jihadists have deployed from bases in the Sinai.

Masked men gunned down the retired colonel on a highway between the capital and the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya, the officials said.

Hours before, gunmen shot dead a soldier in an ambush on a military bus in northern Sinai, the nerve centre of the militant campaign.

Police and soldiers have been battling a burgeoning insurgency that the government says has killed more than 400 people since the army toppled Islamist president Mohammad Mursi in July.

The vast majority of those killed were soldiers and policemen, mostly in the Sinai peninsula where jihadist groups are based.

A taped ‘confession’

Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim told a news conference that police arrested the leaders of militant group Ansar al-Shariah that targeted policemen in the Nile Delta.

A video aired by the ministry showed the taped “confession” of one of the alleged militants saying a jihadist group based in the Sinai tasked him with setting up Ansar al-Shariah movement.

Ansar al-Shariah had recently announced its creation and claimed responsibility for a string of attacks on policemen in the Nile Delta.

Earlier in March, police special forces and soldiers raided a warehouse used by a militant cell responsible for bombing Cairo police headquarters in January and the assassination of a police general.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the leading jihadist group in the country, acknowledged in a statement that six of its operatives were killed in the operation.

A military brigadier general and a colonel were also killed in the raid on the warehouse north of Cairo, which the militants used to manufacture and store explosives.