Egypt says it killed senior member of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis
Egypt says Shehata Farhan was implicated in operations targeting security forces and was killed during a raid in Rafah
A top leader of Egypt’s most active Islamist militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis was killed on Friday by Egyptian soldiers in the lawless north of the Sinai Peninsula, a military spokesman said on Facebook.
Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which seeks to topple the government, has killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police over the past year and beheaded several people in recent weeks, saying they were spies for Israeli intelligence.
The spokesman said Shehata Farhan was implicated in operations targeting police and security forces and was killed during a raid in the town of Rafah, near the border with Gaza.
Egypt said last week it had killed a field commander of Ansar, Mohammad Abu Shatiya, in clashes south of Rafah.
Egyptian security officials have said Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has contacts with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now targeted by U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria after sweeping through border areas and declaring a state.
ISIS last month urged Egyptian militants to press ahead with attacks on security forces and beheadings.
Despite several army operations, Egypt’s military has struggled to tackle Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and other militant groups.
Washington has designated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis a terrorist organization but has said it generally maintained a local focus.