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Egyptian army says Ansar Beit al-Maqdis leader killed in Rafah

Dec. 25, 2014 8:47 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 27, 2014 3:54 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egyptian military sources told Ma'an on Thursday that Egyptian army have killed a leader of a major Sinai militant group in a military operation in the Egyptian city of Rafah, just south of the border with Gaza.

The sources said that Tawfiq Awwad "Abu Seiba," a commander in the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis organization responsible for hundreds of attacks on Egyptian security forces in recent years, was killed in an exchange of fire with the army.

The sources said that Awwad had arms and a grenade on his person at the time of the gunfight, which took place after he was surrounded by military forces.

Awwad was wanted for involvement in the killing of Egyptian soldiers and officers and was a specialist in making improvised explosive devices, which have been used frequently against Egyptian military forces in the Sinai.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis ("Partisans of the Holy House") is Egypt's deadliest militant group.

Egyptian armed forces launched large scale military action against militants in the Sinai Peninsula earlier in Sept. 2013, in what officials described as the largest mobilization of force in the area since the 1973 war with Israel.

The action came in the wake of rising instability and almost daily attacks in the region since the summer 2013 coup by the Egyptian military which unseated democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi.

Since then, armed groups conduct a campaign against state institutions and the military. The Muslim Brotherhood has condemned the violent attacks and denied any link.

Muslim Brotherhood activists, meanwhile, have held weekly demonstrations in protest across Egypt, which the army has violently repressed, killing more than 1,400 and leaving tens of thousands in prison.

Critics of Egypt's military regime say that repression of dissent has only encouraged many to take up arms against the regime, and Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has frequently linked it uprising to the military's crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
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