AL-ARISH, Egypt: Gunmen shot and killed two senior Egyptian officers in the country’s volatile Sinai Peninsula where the military has been trying to quell a spreading insurgency by Islamic militants, a security official said Friday.
The attackers opened fire on the police and army brigadier’s vehicle near the peninsula’s northern city of Al-Arish, sprayed it with bullets and then fled the scene, the official said.
The attack came a day after the military said it had killed three militants in Sinai, including the brother of the alleged leader of an Al-Qaeda-inspired group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.
A statement Thursday on the official Facebook page of military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Samir, said the Egyptian troops targeted suspected militants’ hideouts as part of an ongoing offensive in Sinai. The statement said the troops blew up a vehicle packed with weapons, killing three suspected militants who were inside.
Military officials later identified one of those killed as Khaled al-Manaei, the brother of Shadi al-Manaei, the alleged leader of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or Champions of Jerusalem as the group is also known. The group has in the past denied that Manaei is their leader.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks in Sinai and elsewhere, which have escalated since the military’s ouster last July of Egypt’s President Mohammad Morsi and its subsequent crackdown on Morsi’s supporters.
Militant attacks have also at times spread from Sinai, with dramatic bombings in several Nile Delta cities and Cairo, largely targeting the military and the police.