Egypt arrests senior member of militant group: Sources

CAIRO (AA) – Egyptian security authorities have arrested a senior member of a militant group that has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks against police and army troops in recent months, security sources said.

Karim Abu Rukba, a senior leader of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis militant group, was arrested as he entered Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip through a border tunnel, the sources, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency.

Abu Rukba faces charges of belonging to a terrorist group and involvement in acts of violence against army and police troops in the restive peninsula, the sources said.

The Egyptian authorities are yet to officially announce Abu Rukba’s arrest.

Especially active in Egypt’s northeastern Sinai Peninsula, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for numerous high-profile attacks against police and army personnel in recent months, including the killing of six army conscripts in northern Cairo in March.

The group has also claimed a failed assassination attempt last September against Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim.

Egypt has been gripped by insecurity since last year’s ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the army and the ensuing crackdown on the latter’s supporters.

The Sinai Peninsula, in particular, has seen a sharp increase in attacks on security forces.

The Egyptian army is already engaged in a wide-ranging military operation in Sinai, launched last year with the stated aim of flushing out militant groups.

Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who was declared the winner of a May presidential poll, led the army on July 3 of last year to forcibly remove Islamist Morsi from office.

In April, an Egyptian court issued a ruling obliging the Egyptian government to designate the Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis as a terrorist organization.

 

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