By Ahmed Abbas and Adham Youssef
Police forces killed an alleged “State of Sinai” militant group leader during an attempt to arrest him in Al-Marg neighbourhood in Cairo, according to a ministry statement.
The general prosecution was informed of the incident and sent an investigation team.
The statement added that police forces were monitoring Ashraf Ali El-Gharably in Cairo, and then prepared ambushes to arrest him.
According to the statement, El-Gharably tried to escape by shooting at police officials who arrived to arrest him, forcing an exchange fire, which resulted in his death.
The interior ministry said El-Gharably led Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, now known as “State of Sinai”, in Cairo and the Baharia Oasis. It also accused him of being responsible for an assassination attempt against former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim, attacking several army checkpoints in Al-Farafrah and Musturud, and attacking both Cairo and Daqahliya security buildings with car bombs.
The ministry has been releasing statements announcing the killing of members of “State of Sinai” since the start of the insurgency. Almost all of the militants are killed in action, but an ongoing trial including 200 alleged members of the group is being looked into by Egyptian judiciary.
Security measures taken against the group include the implementation of a three month state of emergency and the military protection of vital facilities.
The Sinai-based militant group has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against security personnel and infrastructure over the past two years. The group’s activities intensified following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, accusing Egypt’s security forces of “slaughtering Muslims”.
They attribute blame for this to Al-Sisi and former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim, whom the group attempted to assassinate in September 2013. Its recent claim was the downing of the Russian plane, which crashed in Sinai on 31 October. In statements, including voice recordings, the group claimed to have shot the plane down, and vowed to publish evidence, arguing it was able to target the Russian Metrojet plane, killing all 224 people aboard.
However, the Egyptian government, including President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, dismissed the claims, describing them as “propaganda”. In a statement, the group said that the attack was in response to the raids by “Russian Crusaders” on Muslims.
After rebranding itself to “State of Sinai” and pledging allegiance to “Islamic State”, the group became more active and more violent, claiming major attacks in the restive Sinai Peninsula.
“Islamic State” leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi had reiterated calls for more attacks on the Egyptian armed forces, and congratulated “State of Sinai” on their successful operations in the region.