Egypt’s Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis denies leader killed
Group rejected claims that Shadi al-Menei was killed with five other insurgents in a firefight on Friday
Egypt's Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the country’s most active militant Islamist group, denied on Sunday reports that its top leader had been killed days earlier in the Sinai peninsula.
In an online statement, the group rejected claims by security sources and local media that Shadi al-Menei was killed with five other insurgents in a firefight on Friday.
"They announce the death of the brother jihadist Shadi al-Menei and that he is the (head of the group) while he was not killed and was not a leader," the statement said, according to Reuters news agency.
High-ranking officials had confirmed Menei’s death after security forces opened fire on the men as they were in a car in central Sinai and purportedly about to carry out an attack on a gas pipeline, officials said, according to Agence France Presse.
Egypt has launched a wide-ranging campaign against militants in the Sinai after they stepped up attacks on police and army targets following the overthrow of elected President Mohammad Mursi, an Islamist, by the military last July.
Former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who spearheaded Mursi's ousting, is widely expected to achieve a landslide win in presidential elections slated for Monday and Tuesday.
Sisi is running against leftist leader Hamdeen Sabbahi.
(With AFP and Reuters)