CAIRO: A top Egyptian jihadist has been killed, security officials said Friday, just days before an election expected to sweep ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi into the presidency on a pledge to eradicate terrorism.
Shadi el-Menei, a senior commander of Egypt’s deadliest militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem), was gunned down in an overnight ambush in his native Sinai Peninsula, the officials said. Word of his death, which was not immediately confirmed by jihadist sources, came on the last official day of campaigning for next week’s election, in which Sisi is expectedly to comfortably defeat his sole rival, leftist Hamdeen Sabbahi. There were conflicting accounts of who carried out the ambush against Menei. Some officials said it was security forces, who intercepted him and other militants as they were preparing to bomb a gas pipeline.
Others said that it was civilians from among the Sinai’s heavily armed tribes. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed some of the deadliest and high-profile attacks on Egyptian security forces since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July. They have included a bombing at Cairo police headquarters last December and an assassination attempt against the interior minister in September, as well as frequent attacks on the security forces in the group’s Sinai base.
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